The Living Lab has been running since May 2017 and there are a number of projects currently up and running. Take a look below at what is already taking place, and the potential projects you could be involved in!
Living Lab for Air Quality
One of our flagship projects, the Living Lab for Air Quality is just getting underway. To find out more about how we are measuring and mapping air quality in and around the University of Leeds Campus click here.
LivingLabScape: i-Tree Leeds Campus Survey
This project is a collaboration between the Sustainability Service and Leeds4Trees – a partnership of LEAF (Leeds Ecosystem, Atmosphere & Forest Centre), the United Bank of Carbon (UBoC) and Leeds City Council. We are exploring the value of trees and green spaces across campus as a pilot study for a City-wide project. The findings of the project will enable us to take even better account of the value of trees when planning campus development. You can use the map below to explore the details of the project’s findings so far, and read more about the project here.
LivingLabScape: Biofiltration Systems
The Sustainability Service and Estates Services have collaborated with the School of Civil Engineering to investigate the design and configuration of biofiltration systems for sustainable urban drainage in the UK climate, using the University campus as a test-bed. This is part of the LivingLabScape stream of projects.
Biofiltration systems are landscaped Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SuDS) that provide rainfall-runoff reduction, peak flow attenuation and stormwater runoff treatment. They have a small footprint so can be retrofitted into the existing urban landscape which makes them ideal for locations such as the University of Leeds campus. The project therefore aims to assess feasibility and opportunities for their uptake in this context.
Phase 1 of the project is already complete and has included lab-based work to establish the appropriate soil matrix. Phase 2 focusses on plant growth trials and has just got underway with the installation of 24 biofilter columns at our Bardon Grange site in Leeds. PhD student Andrea Aiello will carry out 6 months of investigations to establish the optimum biofilter design and recommendations for Phase 3 – a pilot biofilter on campus!
The Food Waste Living Lab
Food waste is a global challenge and the University of Leeds aims to lead the way in innovative approaches to reducing the waste from our catering, cafes and restaurants. We are therefore developing a Food Waste Living Lab. The Sustainability Service has collaborated with the School of Chemical & Process Engineering (SCaPE) and the Centre for Doctoral Training for Bioenergy to look at the feasibility of a variety of technological and behavioural approaches. We have also been developing an interdisciplinary network of food waste research across the University to allow us to take a more collaborative approach moving forwards. The Sustainability Service are currently working with SCaPE to analyse the recommendations so keep an eye out for the next phase soon.
In the meantime you can read a blog of a recent interview with the students involved here.
Mixed Ability Sports
The Mixed Ability Sport (MAS) model is yet to be applied to a University setting but could prove an effective way to increase sports participation in underrepresented groups, as well as to achieve greater social inclusion and community building. The Living Lab is therefore collaborating with the Sustainability Research Institute (SRI) and the Sport & Physical Activity Service (SPA) to carry out a pilot project to evaluate whether there is a need for a MAS offering at the University of Leeds. Find out more 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 is therefore collaborating 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.
LivingLabScape: Sustainable Garden
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.
Development of a Process for Identifying and Managing Labour Risks in the University of Leeds Supply Chain
Saul Diez Lozano – MSc Sustainability and Consultancy
A Worthy Investment? Evaluating the Utility of Carbon Footprints for Informing Environmental Policy Within Organisations
James Townsend – MSc Sustainability and Climate Change
Impacts of the University of Leeds’s Palm Oil Supply Chain on Biodiversity in Southeast Asia
Jonathan Withey – MSc Sustainability: Business, Environment and Corporate Responsibility
Making Laboratories Greener: Barriers to Energy Efficiency at the University of Leeds
Emma Sturtevant – MSc Sustainability and Climate Change
Should the University of Leeds Use Biomass for Space Heating? An Assessment of Technology Options and Associated Feedstocks
Ben Smith – MSc Sustainability: Business, Environment and Corporate Responsibility
If you have a research question you would like to be included in the above list please contact us.