Goodbye from Becky

I can’t believe I’m coming to the end of my internship!  This year has really flown by – in September I’ll be back at the University as a student completing the final year of my undergraduate degree in BSc Sustainability and Environmental Management.  This year has been an incredible experience and I’ve been fortunate enough to work on a range of projects covering so many aspects of sustainability.  I’ve certainly learnt a great deal and developed a number of skills along the way.

A highlight of my year has been overseeing Green Impact – it was great to mentor teams throughout the year and watch them achieve their goals.  I was fortunate enough to work with students and staff across campus from a variety of disciplines.

Organising the Sustainability Awards was another fantastic opportunity – I’d never have dreamt that I would plan an event of that scale!  I loved being able to use my creative side to design the awards and programme, and it was exciting to see my hard work come together after months of planning.  I was able to meet and work with so many people around the University, and the evening itself was a lot of fun.

It’s safe to say I’ve packed a lot into my year and I’ve got involved with as many projects as I could – no week was the same!  Some of the projects I’ve worked on include mapping biodiversity on campus, creating an infographic and website for the Easter Shutdown campaign, completing waste audits across campus and assessing the University’s travel data by completing the Scope 3 inventory.  I’ve certainly squeezed a lot in and I’m so glad that I did!

I’ll be back in September as a Sustainability Architect and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.  Thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way, I look forward to seeing you again.

Sustainability Awards 2017

On Wednesday 7th June the University held the annual Sustainability Awards, celebrating the work that has gone on this year and the people that have contributed to creating positive change on campus and further afield.

The evening began with a drinks reception and a performance from the staff choir, before Louise Ellis – Director of Sustainability, introduced the event.  In the first half of the evening, Vice-Chancellor – Sir Alan Langlands presented the Sustainability Awards, followed by a delicious vegetarian dinner. The evening concluded with the Green Impact Awards, introduced by Director of Facilities, Dennis Hopper, and presented by Sustainability Intern, Becky Ewan.

The winners of the Sustainability Awards were:

Embedding Sustainability through Collaboration

Staff winner: Grounds and Gardens

Student winner: George Middlemiss

Building Knowledge and Capacity

Staff winner: The Priestley International Centre for Climate

Student winner: James Patrick Glover-Ochiltree

Being a Positive Partner in Society

Staff winner: Georgina Binnie for the Writing Back Project

Student winner: LUUMIC (Music Impact in the Community)

Making the Most of Resources

Staff winner: Re-use at St Marks Residences

Student winner: Ravi Toor

Team winner: Olivia Miller and the Cleaning Services Team

The Sustainable Purchasing Award

Winner: Chris Askew, PCB

We also presented 36 Green Impact Awards!

Congratulations to all winners and nominees, and a special thanks to all who attended and made the night a huge success.  More information about the event can be found here: sustainability.leeds.ac.uk/sustainability-awards-2017/

 

Charity Clothes Swap Event

On the 17th March, the CSR interns for the Leeds University Business School held and organised a charity clothes swap event at the Riley Smith Hall at Leeds University Union. The purpose of the event was to raise an awareness amongst students and staff regarding the wastage caused from fast fashion trends, especially prevalent within the younger generation.

The event intended to reduce this unnecessary wastage of clothes by encouraging participants to bring in their fashion items that were in good quality but no longer used or wanted. At no extra cost, these participants had the opportunity to trade in their used clothes and swap for new additions to their wardrobes. If no clothes were brought in, donations were encouraged at approximately £2 per clothes item, with all proceeds going to a charity called SKIP, Supporting Kids in Peru.

This event was highly successful, shown by the high turnout and popularity of the event. It was successful in promoting the sustainability and reuse of clothes by not only encouraging clothes swapping, but also in that all remaining clothes were donated to a variety of local charities in Leeds.

Easter Shutdown 2017

With Easter fast approaching we’ve come up with some suggestions on how you can support the University in reducing energy consumption whilst the University is closed.

Offices:

Where possible, turn off and unplug all IT and office equipment which can be shut down over Easter including computers, monitors, speakers and televisions, as well as chargers and sockets.  Please also ensure appliances are not left on standby.

Turn off and unplug all kitchen equipment including kettles, coffee machines, microwaves, toasters, electric water heaters & water coolers, dishwashers etc.

Heating and ventilation systems will be switched off or onto set-back for the Easter period, unless operational / research requirements require that systems remain on.

Don’t forget to check communal areas, shared offices and meeting rooms.

Top tip: If lighting is regularly left on in communal areas let us know by emailing sustainability@leeds.ac.uk. If it is suitable we may be able to add automatic sensors, therefore solving the problem.

Labs:

Where you are able to, please turn off shared and personal equipment, including ovens, gas chromatographs, hotplates, autoclaves, shakers and centrifuges.

Turn off fume cupboards where it is safe to do so. If you need to store volatile chemicals, try to consolidate them in a single cupboard and turn the rest off.  Keep sashes down as far as possible.

We understand that some equipment is required to maintain safety or is being used for research purposes and therefore needs to remain on.

Top tip: If you have inefficient equipment that can be replaced to deliver significant energy savings we may be able to help. Please contact sustainability@leeds.ac.uk with any suggestions.

Thank you for your support and have a great Easter holiday.

School of Healthcare Sustainability Survey

As part of the School of Healthcare’s Green Impact Silver Award, the team conducted a staff survey to help understand the attitudes and views on sustainability within the department. This would also provide a baseline of information with which to work with in future years. The questions focused around attitudes, barriers and recommendations and 43 responses were received (which was almost 20% of School staff). As the staff play an important role in meeting sustainability targets, it is beneficial to make sure that they are involved in the decision making process in an attempt to making any initiatives as successful as possible.

 

Overall, the survey was well received and provided a wide range of comments that will be useful for the department when deciding and implementing new sustainability initiatives. The results suggested that staff who answered this survey see sustainability as important and necessary; with most defining it as minimising use of resources, protecting the environment and thinking long term. When asked how they believed they contributed to sustainability at work, the two most common responses were associated with recycling and printing, indicating a focus could be put on other areas.

 

Staff felt the department could be doing more to be sustainable, and provided an interesting range of recommendations on how to do this, including light usage reminders, collecting food waste in kitchens, encouraging more remote working, better communications and changing some working practices and attitudes.

The recommendations on how the School could be more sustainable also seem to be linked to the barriers that are perceived – primarily, school processes, working practices and attitudes, time, lack of communication and issues with facilities.

The most cited barrier that stops staff from being sustainable was time, with many responses stating they are too busy to think about how they can improve their actions. The results showed that the best way to encourage the staff to be more sustainable is to demonstrate the positive impact they are having by taking these alternative actions. The survey also showed that 70% of the respondents were aware of the department’s Food Bank partnership, showing there is potential for improved communication as it is a scheme the department has really tried to push. Email was by far the most preferred method of notification about what the department is doing in relation to sustainability.

 

The information gained showed there was a definite interest in sustainability within the department, with people wanting to be able to do more. The results will influence our continuing work within the School and will also be a useful tool to compare year on year progress and receive continuous feedback.

Jack Clarke & Tim Knighton

Style and sartorial elegance… a sustainable option…

Inspired by the New Year sustainable resolution ‘ditch disposable fashion’, a pop-up sustainable clothes sale pitched up on Tuesday 7th March, organised by The Language Centre Green Impact Team.

It drew colleagues and students wishing to renew and refresh their wardrobe with ‘new’ favourites. Similarly, the pre-loved garments were looking for new loves who would adore and carry them with a new swagger.

The boutique style space contained timeless fashions from the 90s to the present day which included spring and summer tops and skirts as well as formal and informal party wear. Plenty of gems from quality brands such as Whistles, Reiss, Jigsaw, Karen Millen and Hobbs including designer were on offer for bargain prices to the delight of the consumer.

Thanks to the co-operation of colleagues and students the whole event was organised in less than 10 days. It was a case of all hands to the deck with respect to organising publicity and ensuring there were sufficient quality items to sell. The funds raised were donated to the charities ‘Friends of Peru’ and ‘Survival International’.

A couple of tips for anyone organising a similar event – ensure there is something for the discerning male… a few disappointed customers resulted when they realised the stylish Calvin Klein shirts were for chic women and not dapper men. A wider variety of sizes is also encouraged to ensure all shoppers leave happy.

A huge thank you to everyone who contributed and shopped in the ‘pop-up sustainable boutique’.
(Kashmir Kaur)

Campus Biodiversity Survey

Following the approval of the University’s Biodiversity Standard, the Sustainability Service asked for volunteers to help bring the organisation closer to achieving the ambition of becoming an exemplar of urban biodiversity.  To do this, volunteers were assigned a section of the campus to survey and to identify locations that may have potential to improve the habitat value to support urban wildlife.  These findings would then be used to start developing the new biodiversity action plan.

So on a cold but bright January afternoon I set off with a map, clipboard and coloured pencils to the Western Campus to survey the fairly substantial area around the Maurice Keyworth, Liberty, Charles Thackrah and Michael Marks Buildings.

The first stage was to use the Phase 1 habitat classification survey technique to record the current types of habitat in place, such as woodland, scrub, grassland, marsh, tall herb and fen.  The second stage was to identify and suggest biodiversity opportunities and improvements that could be made in this part of the campus.  For example, leaving grass to grow a little longer, planting hedgerows, swapping annual plants for perennial species which are better for bees, increasing tree cover, creating log piles for invertebrates and increasing shrub cover for smaller mammals.

I was impressed to discover that quite a few initiatives were already in place, including a log pile, bird feeders, a bee hotel and a wildflower meadow.  However, I was pleased to be able to make further suggestions such as areas suitable for growing creepers, putting in more log piles and bug hotels, and I even suggested one place suitable for making a pond!  I will look forward to seeing what developments arise once all of the surveys of the different parts of campus have been completed and put together.

Joanne Sutherland, SDDU

Bike Library Donation

In September we were contacted by the New Wortley Community Association Bike Library in Leeds to see if we had any bikes which could be donated to their project.  This scheme works with ex-offenders by teaching them how to repair old or broken bicycles, providing them with vital skills, a sense of purpose and a good focus. These bikes are then hired out to people across Leeds for a small fee, and those who cannot afford to pay can rent out the bicycles for free.  The project, which is part of the Yorkshire Bank’s Bike Libraries scheme, proved so popular that they were low on bikes and needed some more to be refurbished to add to their fleet.  Our campus bike hub had recently decommissioned several bikes from the hire fleet, and so we donated them to this great project which benefits the whole community and helps to provide a new lease of life to old bikes!

Here is our bike hub coordinator Steven with the New Wortley bike library team. We are looking forward to donating more bikes to this inspiring project next year.

My First Month…

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Hi everyone,

I’m Becky, an undergraduate from the university studying Sustainability and Environmental Management, and I’ve just completed the first month of my placement as Sustainability Intern.  It’s been a busy and exciting month for the Sustainability Service with students returning!  Freshers was a fun and hectic time on campus, and I promoted sustainability at Fresher’s Fairs and helped out in the Bike Hub with student and staff bike hires.

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My main responsibility is to manage and expand the Green Impact scheme across the university, which recently launched for 2016/17.  This has involved meeting and communicating with staff and presenting volunteer opportunities to students.  There has already been a great interest for student project assistant roles, and I look forward to working with these students throughout the year to improve the sustainability of the university, whilst developing their professional skills.

I’ve also had a chance to get involved with several projects that my colleagues are working on.  One memorable project involved harvesting the honey from the hives on Laidlaw Library and putting them into jars to be sold on campus.

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I’m particularly interested in corporate sustainability, so I’ve been helping out with the university’s Environmental Management System, creating questions for the move to ISO 14001:2015, and going along to an audit of the School of Food Science and Nutrition.  I’m also assisting in putting together the university’s 2016 Biodiversity Action Plan, a really exciting project!

As I’m interested in waste management and have considered this as a theme for my dissertation, I have been tasked with creating a methodology for cross-University bin dips.  Not the most glamorous of jobs, but it’ll definitely be an interesting project!

It’s been such a full and exciting month, I’m really looking forward to what the rest of the year will bring with a great team.  Next week I’m off to the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Volunteer Day to help with the construction of otter holts on the River Aire to help with recolonization… more to follow!