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.

Jake’s Work Experience

Hi I’m Jake, and I have been working with the sustainability team over the past week. The team has given me lots to do over the time I have been with them and I have enjoyed every moment.

On my first day handshakes where given out as I was introduced to the every member of the sustainability team. I was then introduced to my first piece of work, biodiversity measuring. In preparation, I was given a map with areas of habitat marked out on it and a trundle wheel. I then used the map to locate specific sections of habitat, and the wheel to measure the sides of these sections, calculating the total area. The measuring was all done outside and on foot, luckily it was a sunny day!

After I had done some biodiversity measuring I was off to St George’s fields to meet another colleague, Mike, who was waiting with a beekeeper suit, of which I was given to wear. We were going to check on two types of bee hives that are found in there; a top bar and a national bee hive. I was able to help with the check by lifting one of the frames out and seeing whether the bees were healthy.

At the end of the day I was in the office, where I was given the responsibility to look and comment on the, soon to be live, Sustainable Training Module, which will be used to help people understand what sustainability is and what it means at the University.

The next day I was introduced to the ins and outs of the Living Lab programme, and asked to research how other universities are applying this concept. I then finished of the day with some more biodiversity measuring, of which all the data was successfully finished on that day!

On Monday, I was given a tour of the university and some of its labs which gave me an understanding of the large number that are available at the University. The rest of the day was spent researching and gaining more information on sustainability actions within labs.

On Tuesday morning, I helped conduct an i-Trees survey which is a Living Lab project looking to map all the tress on campus and their ecological and econimcal benefits. The survey I was part of involved determining the name (genus and species) of each tree being recorded as well as calculating the height, circumference of the trunk, how much light reaches the leaves of the tree, and the size of each canopy cover.

Aminah’s Work Experience

Hi, I’m Aminah and after about 6 weeks, I will be in year 11 for my final year of my GCSE’s at Roundhay High School. I have been here with the sustainability team for 2 weeks of work experience, and I’m so glad I have! The team looked after me really well, on top of giving me lots to do and learn. This whole experience has given me a much better understanding of what subjects I may pursue as I move onto A-level, because I can now link the subjects with degrees I learned about, that I may want to do.

On my first day (Monday), I got a huge tour of the University campus, which I’m really grateful for because if not I would have got lost countless times during these two weeks. It was also really interesting to see all of the different schools, and how much variety there is with degrees, that I before was oblivious about.

Tuesday was especially good, because a free breakfast was served due to 4th July, along with its supposed theme, which made me feel extremely welcomed. During the rest of the day, I was in a laboratory for the first time. Working with Jane-Marie, who is a laboratory manager in the School of Earth and Environment, where I was setting up for the Environmental Science Academy field trip about water ecology for the next day, and getting a head start with all I was to do the following day. This was incredible, and probably the day I learned the most.

The Wednesday and Thursday of my first week, was probably the highlight of my work experience. I absolutely loved being out on the field and discovering things for myself, and meeting new people. On the Thursday I was actually volunteering on the trip as supposed to the day before where I was taking part. Volunteering gave me a responsibility I wouldn’t usually carry, but did inspire me to volunteer more when I can, because I never knew how much I enjoyed it until then. I also think I will defiantly keep my eye out for more field trips in the future to get involved in, because it’s an amazing opportunity that I’ll kick myself if I miss.

To finish up my first week, I mainly stayed with the sustainability team, doing an online research task, where I learned about how other universities are tackling issues of laboratory sustainability, compared to the University of Leeds, and then using this information to suggest improvements to the sustainability team.

Overall my first week was super enriching for me with new experiences and information, and I would do it all again if I could. I never knew the extent of how interesting and engaging sustainability and the Earth & Environment subjects could be until now.

On the Wednesday of my second week I did some tree surveying as part of a research project on campus, where as a group we went out and recorded data about the trees in St. George’s field. We also tried identifying what they were, however it was quite tricky because there are so many variations of the same tree. It was a new experience for me and I’m glad I did it because it was a nice break, and the weather was lovely too.

For the other four days I stayed in the office and continued to develop on the research tasks and gather as much information as I could. I also attended a sustainability meeting. I think it was important for me to experience what a work environment was like, and I’m glad I have because I’ve come to find it’s not as daunting as I thought it was, and for the record…way better than school!

To conclude, my whole work experience has been phenomenal, thanks to the whole sustainability team, and I wish you all the best. A special thanks to Claire Bastin for offering me to come in the first place, I enjoyed it immensely, and I hope other work experience students share the same extraordinary experiences as I did.

Sustainability in the Curriculum: LUBS Commercial and Professional Skills Module Update

This year, Masters students taking the Commercial and Professional Skills module at Leeds University Business School were given the opportunity to work with the Sustainability Service as part of a consultancy project!

Posing as internal consultants, student groups were tasked to review the student and staff awareness of sustainability initiatives across the University and develop recommendations that could improve people’s knowledge of the Sustainability Strategy and what they can get involved in.

After initial meetings with members of the Sustainability team, groups went away and collected data using a questionnaire to gain a better understanding of people’s sustainability knowledge and activities that are already taking place. They also reviewed specific areas of engagement by the University, using their results to highlight gaps for improvement and make recommendations.

The student’s proposals ranged from utilising social media trends and behaviours, to increasing visibility on campus, and tailoring campaigns for specific audiences.

This is just one of the ways we are integrating sustainability into student learning as part of our commitment to giving all students the opportunity to study and be involved in sustainability.

Student Consultancy

Goodbye from this year’s Student Architects – Emma

I have been lucky enough to be one of the University’s Sustainability Architects this year. This opportunity has allowed me to gain a greater insight into the sustainability initiatives at the University, supporting projects with like-minded people, all from different backgrounds but with the same passion and desire to find sustainable solutions to the many challenges we face.

This experience has allowed me to further my knowledge within sustainability and develop valuable professional skills and experience. I found working as a close team and developing ideas together very successful. Team meetings were one of my favorite elements of the role which were always engaging and motivating (a refreshing break from studying!). One of the key things I learnt was that sustainability is a massive challenge within Universities, but I was overwhelmed to see and be involved in the efforts and the progress here at the University of Leeds.

One of my core projects throughout the year, was promoting and encouraging sustainable dissertations to students. This is an area in which I feel there is great scope within the University, and I am excited to see this develop further with some of the ideas we have been working on. One of the suggestions is to create a sustainable dissertation archive on our website. The archive would have a bank of past student’s sustainable dissertations which others could use to gain inspiration and ideas, and contacts for any further support.

The Student Conference on Sustainable Futures is also something I would promote to anyone looking for dissertation inspiration. Sustainable dissertations are something I have become very interested in over the past two years. I believe it is a great opportunity to invest a long period of time into exploring something that can significantly benefit society in some form. I chose to produce a sustainability themed dissertation based on a personal interest and a desire to contribute to sustainability regarding the future of textiles. My research has benefited me as an individual and significantly changed my process as a designer which has opened up a realm of new opportunities for me. By seeking sustainable alternatives, I have found more advanced solutions and more environmentally friendly ways of working. My passion is finding sustainable alternatives to pigments or dyes in coloring textiles, through bio-mimicry (the imitation of nature). I plan to keep researching within this area with the desire of making this a more commercial coloration process. One of the best things I have learnt and been inspired by during my role and my research is that you don’t have to study a directly sustainable degree, everyone can be sustainable and find more sustainable (and more exciting) ways of working within their discipline.

My role as an architect and working with the sustainability team really helped me develop my ideas and gain confidence in presenting my research. I had the opportunity to present my research at the Sustainable Futures Conference which was extremely successful and really built my confidence with public speaking. The conference is a great networking opportunity which I encourage everyone to get involved with.

I am privileged to have been a part of the team for the past year and have thoroughly enjoyed my experience. The sustainability service has an exciting future ahead and I believe it is one of the most valuable services within the University. Many thanks to everyone in the team who has encouraged, supported and inspired my sustainable journey. The experience has been a pivotal step in preparation for my career as a designer, and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity.

To end on the most valuable thing I have learnt throughout the year; sustainability brings benefit not sacrifice.

– Emma

Goodbye from this year’s Student Architects – Matt

My time as a Student Sustainability Architect is coming to an end and it seems odd to be reflecting on this year as it’s flown by so quickly!

My primary responsibility for the year was to increase the integration of sustainability in dissertations – in line with the University’s concept of a ‘living lab’ and the Sustainability Strategy theme of Building Knowledge and Capacity. This materialised in the form of the ‘Building Knowledge and Capacity Student Award‘, which rewards students for their brilliant and innovative dissertations in the field of sustainability. I’m thrilled to have been a part of setting this up and hope that, as it grows and develops, students from disciplines that are on the peripheries of the sustainability agenda are encouraged to contribute.

The inaugural Student Conference on Sustainable Futures in February has to be my highlight from this year. It was such a vibrant and engaging day that I am confident will continue to be hugely successful in the coming years – especially if the amazing catering carries on!

The last things to do are to thank the team at the University’s Sustainability Service – particularly Josh and Claire, whose enthusiasm and tireless work has made it a joy to work with – and to say good luck to next year’s Architects who I’m sure will continue to do great work and be agents for change.

– Matt

Creating Sustainable Futures Module – Key Findings 2017

The award-winning Creating Sustainable Futures (CSF) Discovery Theme is a collection of optional curricular modules that students can take alongside their degree subject to broaden their knowledge of the social, economic, environmental and cultural aspects of sustainability.

Each year, students taking the ‘Introduction to Creating Sustainable Futures’ module apply what they have been learning to real world use, collecting sustainability data from across campus as part of their practical group work assessment.

Back in October and March, 57 students undertook a ‘travel’, ‘waste’, ‘energy’, ‘Fairtrade’ or ‘community’ themed project over the course of a week. From assessing the University’s bicycle storage capacities and route accessibility, to gaining a better understanding of people’s perceptions of the University’s positive and negative impacts on society, teams collected data from all corners of campus, capturing a snapshot review of sustainability at Leeds.

The data collected is fed back to the University Sustainability team to help create a timeline of recordings and supplement other audits that take place throughout the year. Student’s data collections not only provide hands-on experience of sustainability in practice, allowing them to put their understanding of issues into context, but also present the University with extremely useful information on current sustainability trends.
Some key findings from semester two’s groups included;

  • Of the 269 empty teaching and communal spaces that were assessed as part of the Energy Project, 47% of them had their lights switched on when not in use.
  • 2/3 of the 75 people surveyed as part of the Fairtrade project were unaware that the University of Leeds is a Fairtrade institution, but half were recorded as understanding the importance of supporting Fairtrade.
  • For the Waste project, 86 recycle bin opportunities and their locations were recorded across the 8 buildings that were audited across campus.
  • 89% of respondents to the Community project questionnaire agreed that Leeds’ international research contribution has a significant positive impact on society.

This module is just one of the ways we are helping deliver our Sustainability Strategy commitments of integrating sustainability into student learning. We intend to further increase the take-up of the Creating Sustainable Futures modules by students from all disciplines, helping them to understand the fundamentals of sustainability and how it applies to their future careers.

University Sustainable Garden Featured on Leeds List

The University of Leeds Sustainable Garden has recently been featured in Leeds List’s 7 Secret Things That Only Leeds Locals Know About article.

The Sustainable Garden was created in 2013, and is open to staff, students and members of the public. Regular gardening sessions can be viewed on our events page and are open to all.  These sessions allow volunteers to learn new skills in growing food and to inspire people to try it at home. The food is intended to be picked; instructions of what can be picked, and how to pick, are clearly signposted throughout the garden with a bespoke ‘traffic-light’ system.

To read more about the garden click here.

7 Secret Things That Only Leeds Locals Know About

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.