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.

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.

Unipol

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!