Sustainability at the University of Leeds isn’t about half-promises; it’s at the core of who we are and what we do. It shapes and drives everything that happens here – what we teach, what we learn, what we buy, what we use, what we share, how we travel. It’s about ambition and belief in ourselves. It’s about working collaboratively within the University, with our partners, and with wider society.

Sustainability is at the heart of the University of Leeds. It’s not a ‘buzzword’, or something we just talk about. It’s something that influences every decision we make and every action we take, each and every day. And it’s not just because it’s the ‘right thing to do’ – embedding sustainability across our institution makes the university a better, more supportive, place to work.

But what does that mean? It means management systems, governance, plans and policies. But most of all it means working together to make sustainability a reality. Our Schools, Faculties, Services and individuals need to work as one, think about the bigger picture and, through collaboration, make a substantial contribution to our wider sustainability agenda.

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Our Commitments

We will become a university where sustainability is truly embedded through knowledge, engagement, collaboration, and innovation. Each and every one of our staff and students will understand the principles of sustainability – it will be an integral part of our operations and will bring about positive, sustainable change for the future.  To do this we have made four clear commitments under the Embedding Sustainability Through Collaboration strategic theme:

  1. We will embed sustainability across the whole University.
  2. We will create and support proactive collaborative networks.
  3. We will develop robust management systems.
  4. We will establish governance and accountability structures that drive sustainability and place it at the heart of our institution.

To find out more about how we will achieve these, see our action plan, or get in touch.

Governance

The Sustainability Strategy is just one step towards embedding sustainability across the whole University.  We have come a long way already, but to make sure it remains relevant and ambitious, we need to continually assess our progress towards achieving our goals.  To do this we have established a robust system of governance and accountability.

Our progress is monitored via a number of channels:

  • Progress will be measured on a continuous basis by the Sustainability Steering Group, which is chaired by Dennis Hopper(Director), the member of the University’s Executive Group with responsibility for sustainability.
  • In addition to tracking progress, the Sustainability Steering Group discusses changes to policies and target and agree future programmes of work. This includes the review of carbon management, waste practices, and ethical commitments.
  • We regularly monitor our progress and publish our annual report which is approved by the University Council, Executive Group and Senate.  This is available for comment by internal and external audiences.
  • Our students are key to our success, with staff and student sustainability architects playing an important part in delivering our strategy and help us to keep our progress on track. Representatives from each network are involved with decision making and attend the University’s Sustainability Steering Group, Biodiversity Group and Commercial and Campus Support Sustainability Steering Group, where a range of sustainability topics including carbon, energy, waste and food are discussed. Student representation is also an active part of University Council and Senate. You can find out more on our blog about the projects that staff and students have been involved with.
  • We have developed and will continue to update a set of supporting policies, standards, and action plans.  Our progress against these will be periodically reviewed and reported upon in the University’s Annual Sustainability Report. To find out more or get involved, visit our Get Involved page, contact the Sustainability Service or sign up to our Sustainability Newsletter to receive regular updates.

Leeds University Union (LUU) also sets sustainability objectives and annual reviews are also held – an example of which can be read here. LUU hold Green Impact accreditation and have an environmental management system which holds external accreditation through the NUS. You can find out more about the projects LUU is working on through NUS here.