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.

End of Year Checklist

End of year can be a hectic time for students. In your hurry to pack up and move out, consider the alternatives to throwing away all of your unwanted stuff. The changeover period has a huge environmental and social impact on the local community with over 300 tonnes of waste being thrown away every June.  Most of which could be recycled, reused, donated or sold. Here are our top tips to help with end of year and moving house.

1. End of year celebrations

Even if your party is a one off, your neighbours are still not going to appreciate being kept awake. Particularly local kids who will be revising for their GCSE and A-level exams.  Read More.

2. Recycle your empties

Take your glass bottles and jars to your nearest bottle bank (No you can’t put them in your green bin!) Download the Leeds Bins app to find your nearest.

3. Feed people not bins

Check if you need to buy any more food.  Use up what you have stored away in the cupboards and freezer before buying any more. If you have any food leftover at the end of year, call around to your neighbours and see if they would like it or donate it to the All Hallows Community Café.

4. Who does all this stuff belong to?

Sort out who owns what and give things a quick clean. It will make things easier in the panic to pack up and move out!

5. Sell what you don’t need

Sell your unwanted textbooks, clothes, electricals and media and get some extra cash for the summer. See our Living in Leeds Guide for more information.

6. Donate what you don’t need

Drop off any unwanted furniture, clothes, kitchen goods, food and anything else that you no longer need at one of the end of year collections in residencies, the local community and campus. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter for updates on collections near you.

7. Take meter readings

Do this on the day you move out and avoid any extra charges!

8. Keep safe and secure

Shred any documentation with your personal details on it. Identity thieves are known to go looking through bins. It’s also not a good idea to store all of your possessions in a car overnight as it will get broken in to.

9. Get out and get active

Go along to a local festival before you leave. There are many great events happening around the city to go to. See the Visit Leeds webpages for more information.

10. Rate your landlord

Tell other students of your renting experiences this year through Rate Your Landlord.

11. Before You Go Feedback

Before you go for a summer break, we’d like to hear about the highlights of your year living in Leeds and your ideas for how the University can help students to be active and responsible members of the local community and enjoy their time in the city. Complete our survey

 

The Real 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.

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The Brownlee Centre and Bodington Cycle Circuit now open!

 

Bodington Playing Fields had a £5m investment in 2017 to create world class sports facilities. It is home to The Brownlee Centre which is the UK’s first purpose-built triathlon training centre and sits alongside a 1 mile (1.6km) cycle circuit, one of the longest in the country.

Alongside the cycling and triathlon facilities, there are a large number of sports pitches which are regularly used by students who are part of our Leeds Gryphons Sports Clubs and Social League Teams as well as staff members and the local community. Bodington Playing Fields are located just three miles north of the main University of Leeds campus and compliment the nearby Sport Park Weetwood.

The 1 mile (1.6km) cycle circuit is one of the longest in the country, providing a safe traffic free environment for cyclists of all abilities, and a good place to head out for some fun on your University of Leeds hire bike!

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!

Leeds top five for student experience

The University has moved into the top five in this year’s Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey, from sixth position last year, to fourth this year.

Every year, the Times Higher Education survey asks students across the UK to give their views about their university on a range of issues, from the quality of teaching and how well-structured the courses are, through to accommodation and support and welfare.

Our facilities, activities and societies and services such as security on campus, student welfare and support all feature particularly strongly. In the survey the students voted Leeds third for its facilities, including quality, convenience, library/opening hours, shop and bar amenities, and sports facilities.

Creating a hub on campus where our students can relax and enjoy great food and drink is incredibly important to us. Our offer on campus complements that provided by Leeds University Union. Over the last year we have opened two new cafes on campus, PURE café and the Edit Room, which provide modern and inviting environments for our students. We also have plans to build on this great work by refurbishing some of older cafes later this year.

For more details visit the National Student Survey results.

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)