The Living Lab is just getting going and we have some exciting new projects in the pipeline! We have also got some great on-going projects as part of the Living Lab programme of activity.
Here are some examples and links to further details…
Living Lab for Air Quality
We are in the process of developing an exciting new project to map air quality across the University campus and make the data and information publicly available through an online dashboard. The project is a collaboration between the Sustainability Service, the School of Earth & Environment, the Institute for Climate & Atmospheric Science (ICAS), the Institute for Transport Studies and the School of Civil Engineering, and we’re working on collaborating with more disciplines too. In addition we are researching an interactive tool that will help to educate and engage our staff and students on pollution exposure on their daily commutes to and from the campus.
The idea behind the project is that we will be able to use the data to help shape our Landscape Strategy to better manage air quality around our campus. We will also be able to use the data to support and drive projects that reduce emissions from vehicles and limit exposure to poor air quality around our University. Once our dashboard is live we will link to it from here.
Last Mile Deliveries
Large numbers of courier vehicles deliver parcels and packages to our Schools and Services around campus. Staff and students increasingly utilise the benefits of online orders with next day delivery to support research, teaching and operational activities. Such volumes of vehicle movement have an impact on congestion as well as local air quality.
We have made great strides in reducing the volume of vehicle movement by working with Go Getter Dispatch bike couriers to deliver campus post. However, goods and parcels delivered by external courier services remain a complex and fragmented challenge that is difficult to monitor and manage. The Facilities Directorate has therefore collaborated with the Institute for Transport Studies to map the flow of courier vehicles around our campus and to highlight potential future improvement projects that might help reduce local congestion and pollution.
This project is a collaboration between the Sustainability Service, Treeconomics and Leeds4Trees – a partnership of LEAF (Leeds Ecosystem, Atmosphere & Forest Centre), the United Bank of Carbon (UBoC) and Leeds City Council. It is aimed at increasing our knowledge of the importance of trees and green spaces in urban areas of Leeds. Green spaces provide us with many services, such as climate change mitigation, carbon storage, and benefits to our health and wellbeing through recreation and relaxation. These benefits are difficult to quantify and compare with many other land uses. Our aim is to find out what trees are worth, using a monetary value, therefore enabling us to take these benefits into account when planning development. The first stage of this project takes place in summer 2017 and involves conducting a survey of all the trees on the University of Leeds campus. Find out more here.
Based on the gold award-winning RHS flower show entry in 2012 by the University’s water@leeds, the Sustainable Garden is an excellent example of collaborative working between the Facilities Directorate, Leeds University Union and academic staff. It provides a multi-functional space for staff, students and visitors.
All can engage in cultivation of the edible garden, wildflower areas, soft fruit hedgerows, insect houses and pocket habitats. Regular gardening sessions allow volunteers to learn new skills, research pods are utilised for undergraduate student study, and the space as a whole offers a valuable teaching area, particularly for Biology and Geography modules.
We are in the process of summarising some of the recent research activity that has taken place in the Garden and will share it here soon.
Creating Sustainable Futures
As part of Broadening at the University of Leeds, one of our ten Discovery Themes is called Creating Sustainable Futures. This UK Green Gown Award winning project offers students across the University the opportunity to study sustainability modules as part of their degree. Students are able to tackle real-life sustainability challenges through practical projects. Research findings, data and solutions are shared with university operational staff, local communities and businesses to drive continual sustainable improvement.
Our Sustainable Labs Working Group was established in 2013 to support and monitor the implementation of sustainability actions to reduce the impacts of our laboratory network. It brings together Lab Managers, Technicians, Academics and Estates Services from across the University to work together collaboratively and share best practice.
We regularly host S-lab events and seminars to forward our sustainability projects such as Reuse@Leeds:labs which allows users to share items like electrical equipment, glassware and chemicals through our popular reuse site.
Every year we employ staff and student Sustainability Architects to support the implementation of our strategic aims and our commitment to increase awareness of sustainability at the University. This gives students the opportunity to develop their skills and employability whilst driving impactful sustainable change across the University.
Recent projects have included:
- Developing a ‘sustainability rep’ role to increase our reach across campus
- Increasing sustainability themed dissertation opportunities for undergraduates
- Strengthening student voices through political and governance activities
- Promoting increased recycling and reuse rates within Halls of Residences
The Sustainability Service at the University of Leeds offers 12 month internships to undergraduates looking for a placement year opportunity as part of their degree. Our interns gain excellent learning and experience for a career in sustainability whilst giving the University valuable support in engaging staff, students and the wider community in our Strategy and initiatives.