Student Sustainability Architects: Welcome Mariam!


Picture of person sitting cross-legged on the grass
Welcome to Mariam who will be working with Leeds University Business School to further embed sustainability into the curriculum.

Hello, I am Mariam Zaqout, a PhD researcher at the School of Civil Engineering, interestein the political economy of financing sustainable sanitation servicein low and middle-income countries.

During my role as Student Sustainability Architect, I will work with the Business School to integrate the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the School’s curriculum. Such initiative is crucial since the world face many challenges to improve the lives of all while tackling the environmental challenges preventing sustainable development.

Since education has always played a leading role in tackling contemporary issues and shaping the global market, this project aims to equip the Business School students with sustainability knowledge to harness their business skills to solve sustainability challenges from both industry and research perspectives in their fields of interest

I look forward to applying similar initiative across all the University’s schools since being sustainability literate promotes multidisciplinary collaboration and bridge the gap between the university graduates and the requirements of the global market to deliver these seventeen goals. And I believe it should also be a personal commitment from all of us as global citizens to engage with SDGs.  

Student Sustainability Architects Work Published in Discovering Sustainability Journal

This year’s Student Sustainability Architects are now halfway through their projects and a few of them have successfully had their work published in the University of Leeds Discovering Sustainability Journal.

Find out more about the journal and their progress to date at

New Student Project Opportunity with Coffee on the Crescent


Coffee on the Crescent cafe store signage
Image Credit: @speakofthelevel


Do you want to gain experience relevant to a career in sustainability whilst using your data analysis skills to combat the climate crisis in the local area?

Tim is a local resident, owner of independent café Coffee on the Crescent (@coffeepilgrimuk) and a former University of Leeds Geography student. He is taking urgent action to combat the climate crisis by making a positive sustainable impact on the consumption and waste management practices of businesses and residences in Hyde Park Crescent, the area in which his café is based. Tim hopes to demonstrate how changes in waste management practices can help the City to meet its climate objectives whilst working in partnership with local businesses to implement findings.

Tim is looking to work with a University of Leeds student for up to 100 hours on this project and objectives will include:

  • Research the waste requirements of the businesses on Hyde Park Crescent; this will include data collection and analysis of results from each business;
  • Conduct a cost-benefit analysis of options which promote more sustainable waste disposal options;
  • Investigate the ways in which changes in waste collection process can lead to an improvement of the external communal areas within the Crescent; and
  • Demonstrate ways in which changes in waste management can help to meet City climate objectives on resource efficiency and single-use plastic reduction, implementing learnings of the University’s #2023PlasticFree programme.

Previous experience of undertaking cost-benefit analyses along with data analysis skills would be beneficial.


To find out more and to apply, send a copy of your CV along with a one-page covering letter explaining why you are interested in the role to Kelly Forster ( with the subject ‘Coffee on the Crescent’.

Welcome to the 2019/20 Student Sustainability Architect Cohort!

The University of Leeds Sustainability Service team is pleased to welcome 9 new staff members, who will each take on the role of a Student Sustainability Architect.

This year’s Student Sustainability Architects will take the lead on delivering projects that align with the University’s strategic sustainability objectives and also develop their own ideas to increase student participation with sustainability. Please help us to welcome Alaa, Negar, Fern, David, Rachel, Ailish, Camila, Karolina and Alejandra to the team.

Ailish Byrne – Residential Services: Circular Resource 


Hi, my name is Ailish Byrne and I am a fourth-year Environmental Science student with a year’s work experience as the Sustainability Intern at HP Inc.  My degree program has allowed me to gain a complete understanding of the greatest environmental issues we are facing today, through studying the latest research across a number of subject areas including atmospheric pollution, renewable energy and transport, climate change, and sustainable development. I am excited to use my environmental knowledge and experience to further drive sustainability within the university and engage students and staff in initiatives across campus.

As a Sustainability Architect for 2019/2020, I will be working to promote a circular resource economy within the University’s halls of residences. During this project I will encourage students to think about their resource consumption and highlight ways they can incorporate sustainable practices in their daily lives, by purchasing clothes from charity shops rather than buying new or switching from single-use plastics to reusable alternatives, for example. I am excited to get out and talk to students about their views on sustainability and the current efforts they are making, whilst also developing campaigns to further inform and engage students on the importance of reducing and reusing resources to create a long-term positive impact.

Alaa Aldada – Student Citizenship – Litter and local waste management 

Hi, I’m Alaa, and I’m currently studying a Masters in Water, Sanitation and Health Engineering. My environmental and sustainability interests were my motives to study Environmental Engineering as my undergraduate course. Since I was undergraduate, I have been actively involving as a volunteer with several organizations and groups working on environmental education, and community development. As one of this year’s Student Sustainability Architects, I will be working on the Local Waste and Litter Engagement project, which is a part of the Student Citizenship Programme. The Student Citizenship Programme supports students’ integration into the local community and aims to ensure that theirs and other residents experience of their time in Leeds is a hugely positive one. I am looking forward to engaging with a group of volunteers, and we will be working to find realist solutions for good waste management in Leeds, especially in Hyde Park and Woodhouse Moor. Over the coming months, I will be developing some behaviour change approaches to achieve the objectives of raising the level of awareness and commitment to proper solid waste reduction, reusing, recycling and disposal processes. In addition, I will be working on engaging and educating households on responsible waste management practice, labelling and wheeling bins back to their stores, litter picks and cleanliness audits. I’m really excited about this project, and I will do my best to make a real difference!

Camila Limberg Dias – Removing Single-Use Plastic from Laboratories at the University of Leeds

Hi everyone! My name is Camila, and I am a Sustainability and Consultancy Masters student here at the University of Leeds! I come from Brazil, where I work as a sustainability consultant helping companies to reshape their strategic planning through the lenses of sustainability, and also collaborating with the report of their activities and outcomes on their Sustainability/GRI report. Back home I also work as a volunteer for the Brazilian association of professionals for sustainable development (ABRAPS). This year I am joining the sustainability team as a Sustainability Architect for the Removing Single-Use Plastic from Laboratories at the University of Leeds Programme 2019/20. I am sure my previous experiences together with this master will contribute to this project and to the university’s sustainability strategy. I want to create a healthy environment for learning exchange and good practices development. But I also expect to benefit a lot from it. Meeting many different people from different places, cultures and backgrounds and also working with new environments and tools will be a valuable experience for me. All this, embedded in a strong sustainability strategy, such as ours, will surely lead us all to thrive with great outcomes!

David Mihell – Blueprint

I am currently enrolled on the MSc in Sustainable Cities, which is taught jointly by the School of Earth & Environment, School of Geography and the Institute for Transport Studies.  The course looks at how cities operate as systems and how they can become more sustainable – to support environmental, economic and social goals – through looking at key urban elements including housing, energy, transport and the natural realm.

Having completed my PhD at the University of Leeds, I worked in industry as a management consultant before returning to the University’s as a member of the Student Recruitment and Marketing Team.  Having worked as an independent consultant for the last few years, I am enjoying being back as a student and have been really impressed by all the changes and progress that has been made on campus.

The University’s commitment to sustainability is also great to see, and I am looking forward to contributing to this through my role as Student Sustainability Architect, which supports the Blueprint scheme of tailored sustainability plans for Schools, Institutes and Services.  In particular, I am keen to learn more about the ways we are responding to to our sustainability challenges; helping share and implement solutions and best practice; and supporting the sustainability community across campus.

Fern Spencer  – University Catering Services: Carbon Footprinting of Food 

Hi! I’m Fern and I’m in my fourth year of study in Environmental Science, MEnv. This year I’ll be working with catering services to further increase their sustainability. The success of previous Sustainability projects means that there is now a wide range of low meat or meat-free food options on campus, as well as 65% of food being sourced within 40 miles. This is a great step towards reducing our carbon footprint because livestock generate 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Emissions can be saved by eating plant-based diets but also local produce too. I will be working to calculate the carbon footprint of different food options in the Refectory so that we can each make informed decisions about our food choices.

Since starting my studies at the University of Leeds, I have been fortunate enough to gain sustainability-related experience with different NGO’s and businesses, including being a Green Impact Assistant for the University in 2017. I’m hoping that this position will allow me to put my learning into practice but also enable me to learn new things from other enthusiastic staff and students. By communicating carbon footprint information, I’m also hopeful that people will become more able to make better environmental choices and reduce the University’s environmental impact further. Every person making a small change can make a large difference!

Karolina Zarzyczny – Residential Services: Biodiversity Action Planning

Hi, I’m Karolina and I’m a final year MBiol Zoology student. Apart from sustainability, I have a great interest in outdoors and ecology. I have spent my industrial placement year working for an environmental, outdoor education charity and I have spent endless hours in the field surveying a range of plants and animals since the start of my degree. I am also working with the Living Lab on the Campus Pollinator Project which will tie in very closely with what I will be doing as a new Student Sustainability Architect. Safe to say, I am super excited to start!

I will spend the rest of this academic year working with the University Residential Services and the Sustainability team to develop biodiversity action plans (BAPs) for the residences of interest. To do this I will conduct site-specific surveys to establish an extensive list of species present around the residences and highlight those of special interest. As a Sustainability Architect, I’m also hoping to increase student and staff engagement in sustainability-focused events. Furthermore, I’m hoping to provide students with the opportunity to participate in biological recording across the residences which will allow them to develop skills and gain experience in this field without having to travel far away from the university!

I am very open to ideas and collaboration so feel free to get in touch with me at

Alejandra Velarde Medina – Colour Hyde Park 


Hello everyone! My name is Alejandra Velarde and I am studying a MSc in Sustainability and Consultancy at the University of Leeds. I am originally from Peru where I studied a BSc on Economics. I am particularly interested in the integration of commercial industries, environment and social inclusion.

I am pleased to be joining the Sustainability Architect team. I will be working in the Colour Hyde Park Project (Second Phase), which has the main aim to continue preserving city’s cultural identity, join and inspire communities to feel pride and ownership for Hyde Park through art.  The inclusion of communities is part of the sustainable commitments and doing it over an innovate solution as art, gives everyone an aggregated value.

This year I hope to involve as many people as possible in the second phase of this project. Work with the local and student communities and make a positive contribution to Hyde Park through the creation of opportunities. I am looking forward to embracing everyone and alleviating social issues through sustainable solutions.

Negar Naghshinehpour Esfahani –  Cleaning Services: Plastics Reduction

Hello, my name is Negar Naghshinehpour and I am studying an MSc in Sustainability & Consultancy.  My background is in environmental science and my passion lies in the intersection of sustainability, technology, businesses and behavioural change.  I am originally from Vancouver, Canada and I hope that my previous learnings will help me succeed in this new role.

As a sustainability architect, my project is looking into reducing plastics; specifically in the cleaning service. If you think about it, the cleaning service is a very large consumer of single-use plastics. I will be looking into reducing bin liners, through better means of managing waste stream as well as looking into alternative materials for bin liners. I think the university goal of becoming plastic-free 2023 is an ambitious one – but one in which I am excited to play a role in. If you happen to have an idea or want to chat more about this project, I’d be happy to do so! Send me an email at

Rachel DeCordoba – Conference and Curriculum

Hi, my name is Rachel and I’m a MSc Sustainable Cities student. I’m especially interested in waste reduction and public transportation, and I previously worked in the field of community engagement and public involvement. As a Student Sustainability Architect, I’ll be focusing on integrating sustainability into the broader curriculum at the University of Leeds, as well as helping organise the Annual Student Sustainability Conference.

My hope is that all students at Leeds can engage with sustainability initiatives on and near campus in whatever way suits them best – whether it’s conducting and presenting research, attending the Sustainability Conference, thinking about their particular programme of study through a sustainability lens, or anything else! As an international student myself, I’m also excited to find ways to engage students who come to Leeds from all around the world. When it comes to sustainability, new and different perspectives are so valuable to create lasting change.

Every academic course relates to sustainability in some way. I look forward to discovering how we can truly ingrain sustainability into the academic curriculum and conduct and present sustainability research in new and unconventional ways. There are so many amazing sustainability projects throughout campus that provide great inspiration already!



Leeds Sustainable Curriculum Placement Blog – James Bate

Having just completed the MSc Sustainability and Consultancy course within the School of Earth and Environment, I was delighted to be selected to work on the Sustainable Curriculum Programme on a part-time basis working with Kelly Forster and Thom Cooper. I believe that education can change the mind-set of a generation, therefore by embedding sustainability within the curriculum, students will be engaged with environmental issues and equipped with the knowledge and skillset to apply sustainability in full-time graduate employment.

As I studied BA Geography, I have been aware of sustainability throughout higher education, but this placement made me realise that sustainability is related to all academic disciplines in different ways. As a result, the placement involved developing resources for the various schools and faculties across campus, highlighting the links between certain subject areas and sustainability. In addition, the placement aimed to improve understanding of sustainability for staff who may not have heard of the Sustainable Development Goals, sustainability on campus Leeds and the Leeds Living Labs.

It has been a pleasure working in the Sustainability Service office, learning more about some of the amazing sustainability projects taking place across campus. Following the announcement of the ‘Climate Crisis: Principles for Action’, the university is making huge steps in ensuring the student body is engaged with sustainability, in part thanks to the expanding curriculum programme.

Student Architects 2018/19: Final Project Blogs

Our 2018/19 Student Sustainability Architects have come to the end of their year with us. In their posts below, they give an overview of what their projects have achieved as well as some insights on what they have gained from their time with us.

If you are interested in applying to be a Student Sustainability Architect in 2019/20, please visit to find out more.


Since October I’ve worked with Great Food at Leeds as a Student Sustainability Architect, delivering a campaign aimed at reducing staff and student meat consumption in the Refectory. For a number of years I’ve had a personal interest in how individual food choices can affect the planet, especially with regard to meat consumption, so being able to run a project focussed around something I am so passionate about has been great.

Undertaking some survey research with a team   of volunteers in the Refectory outlined the customer demand for a move towards more plant-based meals also. Therefore, I have spent my time since these results promoting the exciting meat-free options that the Refectory already offered, as well as lobbying for the introduction of more vegetarian options. This culminated in Great Food at Leeds’ contribution to the university’s 2019 Healthy Week in June, where plant-based eating was the main focus area. Approximately one-third of the meals sold during Healthy Week were vegan, which was a huge success! I hope that next year’s promotion is as successful as this year’s.

I’ve learnt a lot during my time in this position. Although running a project with little experience was initially daunting, the experience has been invaluable. As someone who wants to work in sustainability in the future, it’s been great not only planning and overseeing my own sustainability project but also getting a deeper insight into the work that the Sustainability Service do more widely. Additionally, conducting a small sustainability project within a large organisation has been really useful for me to understand the challenges facing the implementation of sustainability projects. Despite the steep learning curve and challenges along the way, I believe that my experience in this role will help me progress in my future career in the environmental sector. I’m so grateful for the opportunity and hope that the Refectory’s focus on meat reduction continues far beyond my time in Leeds!


My time as a Sustainability Architect has been a journey. Not only has this role reaffirmed my passion for sustainability but it has provided me with more personal goals for the future. The journey began with big ideas to transform the way students took part in and engaged in sustainability. I wanted to further my knowledge of delivering sustainable projects and supporting sustainable goals.

I had previously said in my first blog post as Sustainability Architect ‘I hope I can encourage others to engage with sustainability projects, discussions and aim for it to make a personal contribution to your life’. This goal still holds true today and my role this year has helped me realise some of the goals I set out in the beginning. I have been able to engage students in discussions about sustainability and offer further insight and information in the process.  Over my term as the student citizenship architect, I have aimed to further the conversation of plastics to fellow students through a film screening, student-led discussion panel and podcast. I have also helped the wonderful sustainability services team in their pursuit to tackle student consumption waste and waste in the local area through various activities this year.

I have gained an incredible insight into what it takes to plan and develop goals into reality. The time and effort it takes to hopefully make a change however big or small. Sustainability to me goes beyond what I study and my personal interests. It is a topic that affects all areas of life, even more so now than ever. My role has allowed me to make some contribution to the dialogue of discussion needed and it is my aim to continue to do so. The University of Leeds Sustainability Service – particularly Amanda have truly helped me shape my journey with vision and more knowledge.

I wish all future Sustainability Architects the best of luck and hope they enjoy the experience as much as I have done.


This year I have been privileged to work as one of the Student Sustainability Architects working with the Halls of Residence. My main projects have included setting up food waste recycling in flats at Devonshire Hall and organising two British Heart Foundation (BHF) pop-up shops at the University to encourage students to shop more sustainably (i.e. from charity shops).

I also had the opportunity to take over the University of Leeds Instagram account for a week as everyone was moving out of their accommodation at the end of the year. The main messages were about donating your unwanted items to charity as well as a few top tips on how to make moving out easier. This was a daunting experience, to begin with but also a fantastic opportunity to relay some really important messages to a large audience and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience (once I’d got used to being on camera).

If you’re coming (or coming back) to Leeds in September, on the 30th September the British Heart Foundation will be holding a massive pop-up shop outside the Union building. Buying from charity shops not only raises money for that charity but it is also a much more sustainable (and cheaper!) way of getting all the things that you need for your time at University. Please come along!

Working with the Sustainability Service has been a fantastic experience and I have gained a lot of experience that will no doubt help me in my future career. I am also leaving with a renewed enthusiasm to pursue a career in sustainability. I would like to thank everyone in both sustainability and residential services for this opportunity and for their support. I would strongly encourage anyone wanting to work in sustainability to consider applying to be a Student Sustainability Architect during their time in Leeds.


During my year as the Blueprint Architect, we have seen some incredible achievements with the launch of Blueprint, Leeds’s new sustainability engagement scheme, taking place in October. We signed up over 30 schools and services to commit to their 5-year Sustainability plan and currently have 7 teams live with their Blueprint’s fully functional. The journey of seeing these teams brought onboard as pilots to trial the scheme, to the point we are at now, with another 7 teams ready for sign off by heads of the department has been a fantastic experience. The reach of Blueprint since its launch is a testament to its’ success which we have had reiterated to us in the positive feedback from talking to teams while carrying out workshops and scoping sessions.

As part of my role we have created a tailormade Sustainability scheme which can be implemented across the whole University, the work I have done with teams developing the consultation process and design of the Blueprint has been particularly satisfying to see the advancements in methods and results of our new programme. The future is bright for Blueprint and we can look forward to bringing on board and running productive workshops with more schools and services to unite the university on joint Sustainability projects.

One of the things I have been involved with this year is aligning the Blueprint scheme with the University’s Sustainability strategy. This has been an opportunity to align the sustainability work of the individual department’s around University to our long term plan in Sustainability. The Blueprint process has also been made into a full team effort, we wrote the Blueprint manual over the course of the year which explains exactly how we carry out the process as well as all the findings and actions we have created from the trial and error over the course of our Blueprint pilots and more recent Blueprints.

The experience has been a long road of learning from mistakes on how to run workshops, how to score impacts and opportunities and interact with teams to maximize our time and benefit to departments. It’s been a pleasure to see through the work which I began, to the point of it being fully operational and functioning. Blueprint has been time-consuming, had ups and downs and been stressful, but most of all I am proud of the work I have contributed to the current project and excited to see where it takes us as a department and the potential for the sector within Sustainability to create bespoke Sustainability planning. It’s a pleasure to sign off from the University after two fantastic years knowing we have created a fabulous new engagement scheme and in the knowledge, my contributions have helped shape what Blueprint has become. Over and out.


Well, that was quick! It seems like the other day when I was writing a blog at the start of my time as a Student Sustainability Architect and now I am reflecting back over the year.

I joined the team just before the announcement of the university’s pledge to become single-use plastic-free. This was an incredibly ambitious commitment as I soon came to realise. I had two primary tasks over the course of the year – to find out what (and how much) single-use plastic there was on campus, and to discover success stories of people or places that have already introduced initiatives to reduce single-use plastic.

I found that the university uses an incredible amount of single-use plastic – laboratories alone bought over 1 million items from just one of our three main suppliers – but there has already been some amazing work done to eliminate this plastic with the Stage@Leeds becoming single-use plastic-free and 180,000 disposable coffee cups saved through the implementation of the KeepCup system.

This role not only allowed me to help in the fight against unnecessary single-use plastic, it also opened up many more experiences and opportunities. I was lucky enough to present some of my research at the Sustainability Conference, I had access to additional seminars on a variety of professional skills, I took part in climate workshops, and I happily embarrassed myself in an Instagram Live Interview! The range of experiences and development opportunities available was amazing and very enjoyable.

Last but by no means least, I want to thank all of the sustainability team – and particularly my great supervisors Thom and Lucy – for all their support and enthusiasm (and letting me steal their desks). It was amazing to meet a group of people so committed to making the university a better place. Thank you too to Kelly for helping all the Architects throughout the year and good luck to all those Architects for next year!


My year as a Sustainability Architect has flown by! I have thoroughly enjoyed it and have both seen a lot behind the scenes in the Sustainability Department of the University, and learnt a lot about how biodiversity is approached when looking at developments on the campus and in the residences.

Over the course of the year, I have surveyed eight of the University’s residential sites- Ellerslie Global Residence, Back of Cromer Terrace, Henry Price Halls, Charles Morris Halls, Lupton Halls, Devonshire Halls, Springfield Mount Residences and Lyddon Hall. These are all very different- from the very traditional grounds of Devonshire which have strong historical links, to the large open courtyard of Lupton, to the individual gardens of Springfield Mount and the small areas of grass around Lyddon. It was interesting and enjoyable to walk around the sites with a base map and mark on the areas of each different habitat I could find.

After converting the data into a digital map, I inputted this information into the Biodiversity Tool, which produces a value for biodiversity for each site. This is an arbitrary number which reflects the size and range of habitats on the site, as well as how good for biodiversity the different habitats are. This is really useful, as if developments take place at the site, it can be resurveyed and a new value calculated, which will allow developers to see if they have met the same standard of biodiversity as previously. Excitingly for me, three of the residential sites had their grounds improved, allowing me to compare the biodiversity values before and after. For each of the sites, the value greatly improved, which proved to me that biodiversity is a key consideration when developments take place at the university.

Using the information I had gathered, I produced Biodiversity Action Plans for each site, which give goals and targets for the sustainability and residential services to take into account in years to come. Suggestions I have put forward for the sites range from conducting an insect survey to building some wetland areas.

This project has improved my ability to identify different species of plants a great deal, as well as being able to categorise habitat types and recognise which ones are particularly beneficial for wildlife. It has been interesting to see biodiversity through the eyes of many different stakeholders, and better understand the challenges that are faced when developing the grounds of the University with biodiversity in mind. I would thoroughly recommend anybody takes the opportunity to be a student architect, as it is a brilliant way to meet new people and do something completely different!


Work Experience Blog: Fred


Hi everyone,

My name is Fred and I currently attend Beckfoot School. This year, we were offered the chance to go out on work experience at a place of our choice just before we break up for the summer holidays. Luckily, I was accepted by the Leeds university sustainability team. For the next week I will get to understand what they do in order to make sure the university is as sustainable as possible.

On my first day here, the first thing I got the chance to see was the bike hub set up all around the university campus. I learned that while here, it is cheap and easy to hire out or lock up bikes within the vicinity of your work place. Also, if you have any problems and need help fixing your bike, then there is a workshop in the afternoon three times per week where Romain, a member of the sustainability team, will be able to talk you through the procedure of how to replace or repair parts of your bike or fix it for you. I got the chance to help out with repairing some of these bikes and really enjoyed learning how to do it. I now know how to replace a tyre, check for a puncture, and repair faulty breaks.

On my second day, I went to a conference lead by Yorkshire Water. At this conference I got to learn bits about the six capitals (financial, natural, manufacturing, social and relationship, human and intellectual) and how businesses, like Yorkshire Water, have to decide how to implement these into the way that they run their business. I found this experience very interesting because I had the chance to see what happened at these kinds of events and meet some of the people who attend them. I also had the chance to research the kind of activities that went on due to the work put into the living lab.

On day 3 of my work experience, I had the chance to look through the SDG’s that the sustainability team have to think about when they are planning any projects. The SDG’s are basically goals that the university has to try and meet set up by the UN. The sustainability team will then provide evidence of where they have reached each of these goals which are expected of them. I had to set up the template for them to then input all of the evidence that they had acquired over the year where it will then be ranked against all of the other universities that have signed up to this.

Later on, I got to go and look around the garden to see what had been planted by the students, I also got to hear about what was planned to happen with the garden later on in the year. I enjoyed this because I got to see what some of the university students did in their free time.

On my fourth day of work experience, I began the day by talking to some of the sustainability team about what they had done in their careers so far. I found out about some of the courses they had taken at university and what jobs they had done prior to joining the sustainability team. I found this very useful because it gave me an idea of some of the opportunities I will have when I go into work. I also got some tips from them about what to look for in a job and what to think about when I am picking a course to do at university.

I also had the chance to learn about the student sustainability conference from last year, which had been put on by the sustainability team in order for them to learn about the sustainability of the world or show off any presentations about research they had done recently. They also get to listen to a talk by someone famous on sustainability. My job was to think of any ways I thought that they could improve this conference or anything that I thought they could add to it.

On my final day here with the sustainability team, I joined some of them while they had an introduction to the “team” app this morning. I really enjoyed this as it was a lot of fun trying out all of the different things you could do on it and gave me a chance to see what kind of things the people working at the university use.

In the afternoon I had to answer some questions on what a new university student starting here would want to know about and look for before they start here. There were also some questions on what the student would want to know about sustainability before joining. This was interesting for me because it made me think about what I would want to know about a university before choosing it.

Overall, I have really enjoyed my time here with the sustainability team and would like to thank them for the experiences I have had here with them and how they have helped me along with all of the tasks I have done here, especially Kelly Forster for organising all of this for me and letting me come along.



Celebrating Sustainability at Leeds

Leeds has won an award for embedding a collaborative approach to sustainability across all aspects of the University curriculum.

At the International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN) conference earlier this month in São Paulo, Brazil, the Leeds Sustainable Curriculum, led by the University’s Sustainability Service, received the Whole Systems Approach Award.

The award recognises sustainable campus projects that have excelled at integrating sustainability into the culture, education, research and operations right across the University’s Schools and services.

The ISCN is an association of more than 80 colleges and universities from more than 30 countries, which aims to support the global higher education sector as a leader in sustainability.

Dr Louise Ellis, Sustainability Director at Leeds, said: “Winning this award is a reflection of the hard work of a number of different people across the University, including staff from research, teaching and professional services.

“Working in collaboration has been the key to our success. Our approach to the curriculum reflects the wider University approach to sustainability – looking at the whole picture rather than individual projects.”

Victoria Smith, interim Executive Director of the ISCN, said: “It was so affirming and inspiring to see the quality of submissions we received.

“The award winners demonstrate outstanding leadership for sustainability in higher education and we are thrilled to showcase their work and highlight the global importance of their contributions.”

The Leeds Sustainable Curriculum aims to embed sustainability into all undergraduate and postgraduate courses. This includes offering over 130 modules as part of its Creating Sustainable Futures Discovery Theme. The modules allow students from all disciplines to explore the environmental, social, cultural and economic issues facing society, looking at how they can be tackled from a local and global level.

The Leeds Sustainable Curriculum is intrinsically linked to the Living Lab programme, bringing together students, academic and operational staff to research sustainable solutions to real-world challenges using the University campus as a test bed.

The improved Roger Stevens Pond at the University of Leeds

One of the Living Lab’s recent success stories includes the refurbishment of the Roger Stevens Pond (pictured, above). In autumn 2018, the Living Lab brought Estates Services together with academics and students from the Schools of Biological Sciences, Geography and Civil Engineering to create a space for teaching and research.

The University of Leeds Sustainability Service has exciting plans to develop the Leeds Sustainable Curriculum even further next year. Keep up to date with its progress along with other staff and student opportunities here.

Further information

  • For additional information, please contact University of Leeds Media Relations Manager Anna Harrison via or +44(0)113 34 34196.
  • The ISCN provides a global forum for universities pursuing sustainability across their educational and research missions, and operations. ISCN Members commit to sustainability principles according to the ISCN Sustainable Campus Charter. Founded in 2007, the ISCN features international awards, conferences, and working groups to promote best practice exchange. More information on the ISCN and its Members can be found at

Sustainability in Catering Services: Healthy Week 2019

Hi, I’m Katy, and I’m approaching the end of my term as Student Sustainability Architect for the University catering service. My main aim in this role has been to encourage Refectory customers to reduce their meat consumption, and instead opt for some of the delicious plant-based options served on the Green & Go and Tossed Salad counters. Recent research has shown the importance of reducing meat consumption, particularly ruminant meat, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, water use and land use. A focus on meat reduction has recently been implemented into Great Food at Leeds’ Sustainability Strategy as a result of my work!

My recent project has been to implement this sustainability focus into Great Food at Leeds’ offering for the 2019 Staff Healthy Week. Between the 17th-21st June, a free piece of fruit will be available with every vegan meal, and the Green & Go counter will be serving only vegan meals for the entire week. Additionally, a Street Food Hut will be outside the Refectory all week, serving fresh and delicious vegan meals. This will be a huge step forward for Great Food at Leeds in working towards its new sustainability goal. Reducing personal meat consumption is an achievable goal for everyone, and we hope that this year’s Healthy Week offer will inspire customers to eat more meals with vegetables as the main focus.

I’m excited that planetary health and personal health are being combined for 2019 Healthy Week. Please visit the Refectory and our Street Food Hut outside the Students’ Union between the 17th-21st June and buy a delicious plant-based meal to support sustainability in catering at the University of Leeds!


Student Sustainability Architects Update

This year’s Student Sustainability Architects are all well underway with their projects. Find out what they’ve been up to below:


Hi, I’m Katy, the Student Sustainability Architect for the Catering Service, and I’m delivering a project aimed at reducing staff and student meat consumption in the Refectory. I’m now five months into my role and am loving it! For a number of years I’ve had a personal interest in how individual food choices can have an impact on the environment, so being able to run a project so focussed around something I am passionate about is great. So far I’ve undertaken some surveys looking at the staff/student view of the current meat-free meals in the Refectory, finding that while Refectory does provide many meat-free options, there are a number of ways we can increase the number of customers who choose these options. I have drafted a communications plan and I am in the process of delivering a social media campaign aimed at meeting this goal. Hopefully, by the end of my term, more customers will be aware of, and will choose the meat-free options when eating in the Refectory!


It seems not too long ago I started my work as the Student Citizenship sustainability architect.  In the beginning, the areas I wanted to explore revolved around getting students to engage with sustainability in a way they may not have previously. This still holds true today, but I have found my ideas have narrowed down. So far, my projects are evolving steadily and will hopefully make a positive impact on campus and in the local area.

The process has been fulfilling, challenging and enjoyable.  In the coming weeks, I am working on opening a discussion on the issues of plastic consumption. This event will be part of the Sustainability Conference Fringe events. I hope this event will facilitate discussions towards our interactions with consumption and the road towards being single-use plastic free by 2023.  Other projects planned this year will include tackling consumption in clothing and promoting a clean local environment through cleanups. The main plan is to enable students’ engagement and citizenship towards sustainability in their daily lives and the local community. I look forward to planning and implementing these projects as they continue.


Hi Everyone. I’m Nicola, a final year PhD student studying Bioenergy in the School of Chemical and Process Engineering. This year I have been working as one of the Student Sustainability Architects where I am working to reduce waste in the University Halls of Residence.

So far I have helped to re-establish food waste recycling in flats at Devonshire Hall. Food waste that is collected is taken to an anaerobic digestion plant in Wakefield where it is used to produce bioenergy to power local homes and businesses. Approximately two-thirds of flats have chosen to have a food waste recycling bin put in their flat and we have already seen an increase in the amount of food waste collected.

I am also working with students to help reduce the amount of waste produced. This includes encouraging everyone to recycle as much as possible, donate spare belongings and look in charity shops for things that you need rather than buying everything new – this also saves you a lot of money! On the 30th September, The British Heart Foundation will be coming to campus (outside the Union building) to hold a pop-up shop where you can grab a bargain and buy all those things you may have forgotten to bring to university. Please come along!

If you live off campus and are not sure about what can be recycled in your area take a look at the Leeds City Council Page here – there is probably more than you thought!


Hello, I’m David and I have been working on the new SINGLE OUT pledge by the university to phase out single-use plastic by 2023. This is a huge task as plastic is used almost everywhere and so initially my main aim has been to work out what and where single-use plastic is used on campus. We have three areas that we are focusing on; labs, catering and offices. We have gathered feedback from students and staff across the campus and the information we have collated is being used to help determine what solutions can be implemented. To further develop our knowledge of what single-use plastic the university uses, we are also working with the catering service and purchasing department. We have already begun to collaborate with some labs and services on reducing single-use plastic including plastic audits in offices, reducing water bottles at careers fairs and spreading best practice in labs.


My name is Chloe, and I am looking at the biodiversity of the university residences as part of my student sustainability architect project. This has involved me walking around surveying each of the halls of residence, particularly the larger ones like Lupton and Devonshire Halls. I have been identifying the different plant species and their distribution and categorising them in order to input the data on the University’s Biodiversity Tool. This calculates a biodiversity value for each of the sites, so if any improvements are made or the site undergoes development, it can ensure that the biodiversity is either maintained or improved by comparing the values. An example of this is the areas around Lyddon and Charles Morris Halls, which I surveyed in November, and will re-survey once the current landscaping works are complete, in order to quantify the improvements.

Next, I hope to create a Biodiversity Action Plan for each of the sites, in order to work out what can be done to maximise the benefit the plants will have on other species and on staff and students.


I’m the Student Sustainability Architect working on the Living Lab this year. I identified key areas to be targeted in order to encourage greater engagement with and participation in Living Labs projects across the University, including the website, the curriculum, the Student Sustainability Conference and producing video content. There have been some really exciting Living Lab projects with a wide range of students and staff involved. I want to highlight these projects and people further in order to celebrate what has been achieved so far and inspire people with knowledge about the kinds of things possible.

We’re updating the website with a more user-friendly layout as well as producing some new content. I developed some resources (inspired by the University of Edinburgh’s Living Lab “toolkit”) to help with the planning, writing and completion phase of a Living Lab project. I’m also in the process of conducting interviews with students, academic staff and operations/professional staff who’ve been involved with the Living Lab and these are forming the basis of case studies. It’s been really interesting gaining such in-depth and personal insights; for instance, I spoke to Dr Chris Hassall (School of Biology) about his work developing the Roger Stevens pond, which was fascinating! My work on the curriculum was largely focused on module mapping in order to identify which ones constituted Living Lab modules and to highlight those that have potential through work placements or research projects. The next step is to develop some engaging video content that can be used on the website and at events!