Myth Busting the House Party

My top tip to any student thinking of holding a house party is to think carefully whether you are likely to cause any offence or nuisance to those living around you- remember loud music can travel some distance and will affect more than your immediate neighbours.   

I’ve heard many DIY solutions that students have tried in the past to try and prevent the noise from the DJ’s and professional sound systems being heard. No amount of cardboard or mattresses pressed against windows will prevent your neighbours from hearing exactly what is going on! Especially if your guest list extends to 100+ people who will be in and out of your property and causing a disturbance as they make their way home through the neighbourhood in the early hours. And of course, I wouldn’t have this knowledge if it wasn’t for the University receiving numerous complaints about noise and having to speak to the students involved.

Here are a few more common misconceptions about house parties that I have come across.

1. The noise has to exceed a certain decibel level for action to be taken. NOT TRUE! A sound meter isn’t even used. The University and Leeds Antisocial Behaviour Team make an assessment based on who your neighbours are and how noise is impacts on the wellbeing of your neighbours.

2. Action can only be taken over noise that happens at night.  NOT TRUE! Noise is more of a problem for people after 11pm but action can be taken for noise at any time. Even at low levels if you have a neighbour that is more sensitive to noise, such as an elderly neighbour.

3. If I can hear the noise, investigators can take action. TRUE! If the noise is audible outside of your house, there is a good chance it’s loud enough to cause a problem for your neighbours.  Turn the volume down!

4. Having Bouncers will limit the number of people crashing your party and prevent problems with your neighbours. NOT TRUE! Bouncers are more likely to scare off your neighbours when they call around to let you know there is a problem.  Being able to speak to your neighbours direct about any issues as they arise is a far better way of dealing and resolving disputes. Disciplinary and enforcement action is a far worse consequence of making a mistake than having to apologise to the people living next door.

5. If you create excessive noise you are breaking the law. TRUE! Leeds Antisocial Behaviour Team can take enforcement action that includes the confiscation of equipment, house closure notices, fines and a criminal conviction.

6. If I let my neighbours know that I’m having a party then no action can be taken. NOT TRUE! I would always advise that you speak with your neighbours in advance of having your friends over and share your contact details. However, residential streets are no place for a party that continues past midnight and has over 30 guests at any time!  Your neighbours are still likely to make a complaint if your event is too big, too loud and goes on too late.

7. Its my birthday, a one off party isn’t going to hurt anyone. NOT TRUE! If every student has a house party for their birthday then that means  a lot of parties and a lot of lost sleep! Take your celebrations in to town or book a venue to hold your party.

8. Hyde Park is a student area, its okay to have house parties. NOT TRUE! Hyde Park is home to many different residents. No street is completely student only. We also receive as many complaint from students as other residents about house parties!

9. I moved into a property next to a noisy neighbour so I guess I have to put up with it. NOT TRUE! Let us know if you are experiencing a problem through our Helpline. You may not be the only person affected by the noise!

10. I can’t have my friends over at any time as my neighbours will complaint. NOT TRUE! No one is likely to object to your having your friends over if you do so in a reasonable way. Would you really like to live next door to a party animal if you had to be up for work or lectures at 9am?

For information on the University’s procedures in handling off-campus issues see my earlier Blog for details on the joint action being taken by the Council and Police to tackle noisy parties.

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/

 

Clean Air Day 2017

The UK’s first National Clean Air Day took place on Thursday June 15th. It was a chance to improve air quality in and around Leeds through various events, initiatives and schemes both on and off campus. The University encouraged all staff and students to commute to campus through low carbon, active travel methods such as walking, biking and lift sharing, in return for a free healthy breakfast and bike maintenance session. The day was a great success for inspiring positive change across the University.

The Hidden Cost of a Party

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Creating noise nuisance can not only lead to hefty Council fines and a disciplinary from your institution but it could also be costly in repairing any damage to the property you rent if you hold parties. With the use of social media it’s now easier than ever to spread the word about a party you’re hosting and you risk dozens of strangers turning up and attracting the wrong crowd who won’t respect you, your property or your belongings. Once a large crowd gathers it is very difficult to disperse everyone and as a tenant you will remain liable for any damage caused by the guests- even if you did not know them.  Remember, you are not only paying for the repair itself but also the contractors time which can be very expensive- some examples of costs to expect would be;

Filling and painting over one damaged wall; £60 plus

New carpets; £500 plus

Professional clean; £50 plus

Replacing a broken sofa; £450 plus

If you are not towards the end of your tenancy your landlord can demand you pay for these costs straight away and if it is towards the end of your tenancy you risk losing your deposit altogether and being taken to court for any remaining charges.

It is very common for landlords to request references before allowing you to sign a new contract- remember to bare this in mind because even after you have paid for the damaged property your landlord would still have to be honest when asked if they would consider you a trustworthy tenant.  Some landlords require references from the previous five years so this could have a major impact on you for a long time to come.

Studying is very hard work and it is expected you balance this with a good social life but if you have friends around remember to limit the number you invite and only invite people you trust.  Speak to your neighbours and let them know to contact you if they are disturbed by noise from your property. Leeds offers a wide range of bars, pubs and clubs and it is a much better idea to go to these for a party rather than risking the consequences noise nuisance can bring.

Unipol

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.

A week in the life of a Sustainability Intern

Over the past few weeks there have been some amazing achievements within the Service; from achieving ISO 14001:2015 accreditation for our Environmental Management System, to widening our reach of projects as part of our Living Lab programme. Some of these achievements have given us the opportunity to engage with an array of people at University, throughout the community and in surrounding areas. Some of my highlights of the past week as an intern with the Sustainability Service are listed below:

Wednesday 22nd March – Biodiversity and tree planting at Bodington  

One of the events that particularly stood out for me was the mid-week Community Tree Planting Event. With help from the University grounds team and Moorlands Primary School, we set out to Bodington playing fields on the 22nd March armed with spades, trowels and 420 baby tree whips, for a morning of planting and urban biodiversity.

We pulled up into the car park at 9 am under a thick cover of clouds, where we were joined by a group of 10 trusty student volunteers from Moorlands Primary School. We began by discussing the importance of biodiversity in urban areas, mentioning the benefits of trees on wellbeing, habitat growth and carbon dioxide reduction. We then went on to think about the specific species that live in and around trees that would benefit from the mixture of Oak, Hawthorn, Beech, and Blackhorn we were planting, with students successfully recognising bats, birds, bees, insects, and squirrels as some of the main inhabitants.

It was great to get the students thinking about the importance of biodiversity in Leeds, especially with the new refurbishment of the Bodington sports and cycle track facility 500m away, and the resulting need to maintain and replace some of those surrounding natural habitats. Unfortunately we didn’t see any bats like the children had hoped, however we did see birds and a huge amount of insects within the soil and subsurface.

In the end, we manged to plant all 420 in 1 hour and 20 minutes and we couldn’t have done it without the help of Moorlands Primary School, thank you very much!

Saturday 25th March – Be Curious Festival 2017

On Saturday 25th March, the Be Curious Festival 2017 took place at various locations on campus, namely the Parkinson building and the Michael Sadler building. The day was a celebration of the research taking place at Leeds University, highlighting its importance and relevance to not only the Leeds as a city, but also Yorkshire and the UK as a whole!

We thought this would be a great opportunity to display some of the engaging research that the Sustainability Service are currently doing to tackle issues on and off campus. We had a stall dedicated to our Living Lab programme which highlighted our upcoming project looking at food waste management and its potential use as an energy source. This was paired with information on recycling in surrounding communities, giving passers-by the chance to see how their postcode compared with the recycling rates of the Leeds average, as well as testing their knowledge on what household items can and can’t be recycled. Our other stall highlighted the student projects carried out under the Community Engagement Discovery Module alongside interactive activities regarding St George’s Field, its heritage and importance as a green space on campus.

The day was a great success, with over 350 people coming and visiting us throughout the event who had some great questions and suggestions for future projects! See below for some of the imaginative drawings children drew of things they’d like to see in St George’s Field.

Thanks to everyone who helped out with Be Curious; the organisers, volunteers and members of the public who made the day a success. We look forward to next year!

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)