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Sustainability Awards

Each year we celebrate the sustainable achievements of students and staff at the University of Leeds with the Annual Sustainability Awards.

Creating a future for all

This year’s theme is creating a future for all as we believe sustainability should be inclusive for everyone and so, we strongly encourage applications that have equality, diversity and inclusivity embedded within their approach.

The past year has been challenging for everyone so now, more than ever, we want to celebrate the successes of the whole University community.

Award Winners

Congratulations to the 2021 Sustainability Award winners!

This year, we reached record number of nominations so we want to give a heartfelt thank you to everyone who submitted a nomination and to those of you who were nominated.

It’s amazing to see all the incredible work going on across the University community to find sustainable solutions on a local, national and international scale.

A special thank you goes out to Ariane Far, Greg Hull, Lorraine William-Jones and Laura York for being part of this year’s judging panel.

We’re very pleased to announce this year’s winners for each award!

Advancing Sustainability Knowledge Award

Recognises quality teaching, learning and knowledge sharing in sustainability themes, across the University’s academic, professional and operational communities.

Winner: Olivia Solomon, Dennis MacDonald and LUBS Commercial and Professional Skills module students for embedding sustainability in the LUBS curriculum.

The LUBS Commercial and Professional Skills module run by Olivia Solomon and, previously, Dennis MacDonald is a Living Lab project which collaborates with teams across the University to embed sustainability into student learning as part of the Leeds Sustainable Curriculum programme. Using the University as a testbed, the module brings students together with academic and operational staff to research and test sustainable solutions, enhance our curriculum and tackle global challenges at a local scale.

Over the past year, students have been contributing towards the #2023PlasticFree Pledge and the Blueprint programme by using their research to highlight areas where awareness needs improvement. Recommendations ranged from encouraging student engagement through face-to-face activities and events to posting more diverse and regular content on communications channels.

Highly Commended: Healthcare Students for Climate Action (HESCA) for developing climate knowledge

Leeds Healthcare Students for Climate Action work to improve the environmental impact of Healthcare across the School of Medicine, Healthcare and Dentistry. The group have developed an accredited Carbon Literacy Training course for students in the Healthcare School. The training course is focused on both knowledge sharing and a call to action in tackling climate change. As part of LUU Climate Week, HESCA delivered a taster session called ‘How's Your Footprint’ in collaboration with Jo Cutter and Andrea Denny from the Business School.

Protecting our Planet Award

Celebrates individuals, teams, projects, activities or initiatives which have worked to enhance the University’s environmental impact.

Winner: The Residential Services Team for integrating the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) across delivery.

The Residential Services team is currently in Year 3 of its Blueprint action plan, and is committed to supporting the University's sustainability strategy and the SDGs. Their unwavering commitment in supporting the University’s sustainability goals has been demonstrated through their work to develop communal greenspaces, create sustainability learning opportunities for students and volunteers, advance energy-efficiency in halls of residences, introduce electric vehicles to their operations, improve wheelchair access and much more.

They have continued their work over the past year to improve the University’s environmental impact across the University’s residential sites.

Highly Commended: The Cleaning Services Team for their sustainable response to the pandemic

The University’s Cleaning Services team have demonstrated significant resilience through their sustainable impact on campus over the past year. They have continued to keep campus running whilst still going above and beyond their normal duties to ensure their team works to mitigate the environmental impacts of the pandemic.

The team played a key role in supporting Leeds General Infirmary and labs across campus who were researching the Covid-19 pandemic, removed huge quantities of clinical waste to support the Leeds Covid-19 response as well as continuing to deliver increased quantities of materials to departments and buildings.

They have gone above and beyond their normal duties, and have been integral to delivering sustainability on the ground to mitigate the University’s climate impact.

Local Impact Award  

Recognises inspirational projects or individuals/groups that have a significant local impact in addressing sustainability challenges.

Winner: The Big Clear Out project for reducing waste through collaboration

The Big Clear Out was set up last summer as a collaborative project to support students from across communities in Leeds to donate their unwanted items for the benefit of local people, rather than throwing them away.

Leeds Beckett University, Hyde Park Picture House, All Hallows, Oblong, Hyde Park Source, Cardigan Centre, Leeds City Council, Headingley and Hyde Park Councillors, Little London and Woodhouse Councillors, Kirkstall Councillors, Left Bank Leeds, Woodhouse Mutual Aid and Gateway Church were all integral to the delivery of the project in collaboration with various teams at the University of Leeds.

The project was an incredible success as;

  • Approximately 16 tonnes of unwanted items were collected, worth an equivalent of £83, 626, to support local people and charities most in need across the city.
  • Community Action on Waste took away household items and redistributed these to students at the start of term, through a series of freeshops held in Woodhouse, Little London, Hunslet, Beeston and Hyde Park. This supported over 750 local people, who were able to take away as many items as they needed, free of charge.
  • Local organisations and charities supporting young care leavers, older people, refugees and asylum seekers took items that benefited over 150 people.
  • Twelve carloads of food were donated to Rainbow Junktion to restock their food bank, which has provided a lifeline to local people in financial difficulties as a result of the pandemic.
  • Duvets and blankets were given to the Dogs Trust
  • Bras were sent to Smalls for All; a charity that collects and distributes underwear to help adults and children in Africa and the UK.

Highly Commended: Paola Sakai (Food resilience research)

Dr Paola Sakai is a Global Food and Environment Institute member and UKRI Research and Innovation Fellow in the School of Earth and Environment. She has been leading local change with stakeholders to increase climate resilience, health and inclusive growth across the Leeds City Region.

Paola has led a multidisciplinary team to explore how we can build a resilient food system in Leeds and won the Michael Beverley Innovation Fellowship to create a Public-Private Research and Innovation Partnership exploring the production of nutritious food using innovative technologies to promote climate resilience, sustainability, inclusive growth, well-being, and food security.

Global Impact Award

Recognises innovative projects or individuals/groups that have a significant global impact in addressing sustainability challenges.

Winner: Frances Noble, LUBS, for promoting inclusivity through international student perspectives of sustainability

As a Staff Sustainability Architect, Frances has considerably improved student engagement around sustainability with a particular focus on cross-cultural communication of sustainability issues. Through organising global roundtable events on international perspectives on sustainability, Frances set out a model of student engagement and quality education around sustainability in an online format which could be utilised and copied by others. Frances’ events connected and engaged presenters and participants from around the globe demonstrating the global impact of her efforts.

Highly Commended: The Bambisanani Partnership for promoting sustainable education and health.

The Bambisanani Partnership is a collaborative project developed by St. Mary’s Menston School in Leeds and Mnyakanya High School in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

For the past fourteen years, the Yorkshire-based charity has worked in one of South Africa’s most deprived rural areas using sport as a catalyst to promote education, health, global citizenship and leadership. Despite the pandemic, the Partnership has worked tirelessly with partners in South Africa to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 through its commitment to using sport and education to improve the lives of people in the UK and South Africa.

The charity has gained international acclaim for its work and the University’s involvement has taken this to new heights as Sport and Physical Activity have contributed to the ‘Cycle to Success’ programme and are working with charity partners in South Africa to develop a rural bike hub for its cycling project. This is all done collaboratively with our South African colleagues and is an example of true international partnership at work.

Culture of Collaboration Award

Celebrates the building of strong and effective partnerships, within or beyond the university community, to find sustainable solutions.

Winner: MEETinLEEDS, the International Student Office, International Office, and Great Food at Leeds for collaborating on inclusivity for international students

Over the past 12 months, MEETinLEEDS, the International Student Office, International Office, and Great Food at Leeds have formed a truly collaborative partnership to ensure that the university is meeting the needs of its international students, whilst also supporting the institution’s wider inclusivity strategy; the delivery of an intercultural student experience underpinned by effective staff training to facilitate whole cohort integration, belonging and community-building.

The collaboration is working to deliver an intercultural experience across the University which improves students’ sense of belonging and integration to create an inclusive and diverse student community. The teams have gone above and beyond during the pandemic to ensure that international students are still able to experience the best of Leeds and the University.

Highly Commended: Q Step Summer Placement Scheme

The Q Step Summer Placement Scheme enables students the opportunity to carry out research projects hosted within the University and by external partners, including Leeds City Council, Department of Health, charitable and cultural sector organisations. Students develop their quantitative research skills during a training course, then apply those skills collaborating on a live research project over a 4 week paid placement.

Since summer 2015, over 150 placement students have successfully completed summer research project placements and, despite the COVID pandemic, the scheme continued its outstanding collaboration and went ahead in 2020 after being converted into an online format and offering the research project placements on a remote working basis.

Each year, a diverse set of research projects are available to students completing level 2 study on programmes across participating Q Step faculties and last year’s projects included Climate Change Threat and Authoritarianism, Exploring the impact of music events on wellbeing, Measuring and mapping levels of competition between private and public transport modes and, University of Leeds Inclusive Learning and Teaching Development Project.

Building a Sustainable Community Award

Celebrates individuals, groups or activities that contribute to enhancing the health, wellbeing, equality, diversity and/or inclusion of our community, either within the University or beyond.

Winner: Kingsley Duru, President of the African and Caribbean Society, for fostering a socially conscious community

As president of the African and Caribbean Society (ACS), Kingsley has significantly advanced equality, inclusion and diversity values amongst the University community. Throughout Kingsley's presidency, he has demonstrated commendable community values as, despite the pandemic, Kingsley has fostered a socially conscious environment for the society and its members.

Kingsley has become the second black Law Society President of Leeds University's history, used his platform to write an open letter addressing the George Floyd incident and contributed to the discussion surrounding unconscious bias and, facilitated the celebration of LGBTQ+ month for the first time in the society’s history offering over 100 members in attendance a place of belonging and winning the 'Best New Collaboration' Award from the University Union.

Highly Commended: Clare Martynski, Priestley International Centre for Climate, and Ian Shaw, School of Politics and International Studies for promoting good health and wellbeing through the University’s Eco-Anxiety group.

Ian and Clare set up the Eco-Anxiety group for staff and students from all disciplines as a space to discuss the impacts of the climate crisis on mental health. The group has been meeting regularly over the past year and has brought together a community of members to support each other over a common concern for environmental action and good health and wellbeing. As part of the group discussions, Clare and Ian organised for Jo Musker-Sherwood, Eco-Distress Researcher and Writer and Consultant at Climate Emergence, delivered a workshop session for members to discuss what eco-anxiety means to them and to develop techniques and resilience over managing emotions relating to the climate crisis.

Email if you’d like to learn more about the Eco-Anxiety group.

Signification Contribution Award

We are so pleased to announce that this year’s Significant Contribution Award is going to Beverley Kenny MBE, Deputy Director of Catering, Conferencing and Print, for her outstanding commitment to sustainability at the University.

Dr Louise Ellis, Director of Sustainability, said:

“Bev has shown unwavering commitment to creating environmental and social positive change; this ranges from supporting local communities and schools with access to food and facilities, sourcing food from local suppliers, removing plastics from catering and conferencing and supporting our students throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Bev is an energetic force who never leaves anyone behind – this means she will hand-deliver supplies and also provide Christmas dinner.  Bev was instrumental in the University gaining Fair Trade accreditation and ensuring we work closely with the Foundation over several years.  She is working hard with our suppliers to co-create sustainable solutions which will mean this will have an impact way beyond the University walls. Bev has always believed in environmental and social equity, doing everything (and more) that she can to create change.  I also want to personally thank Bev for all the support, help and guidance she gives to helping me and the Sustainability Service navigate through the complexity that we all face.   Thank you, Bev!”

Awards Shortlist

This year’s shortlisted nominations were:

  • Ciaran McInerney, School of Computing, for leading sustainable change in the School of Computing
  • Local Government Association (LGA) Decarbonising Transport Series for communicating the benefits of decarbonising transport
  • Residential Services, Charlotte Morton and Izzy Walter for their work on a collaborative foodbank project
  • Pandemic Podcast: Student Life during COVID-19for giving student’s a voice during the pandemic
  • Rethink Climate Solutions for inspiring sustainable change and innovation
  • The Climate Press for improving how climate science is communicated to the public
  • The Educational Engagement Service for educating, inspiring and reducing inequalities amongst young people in schools and colleges
  • The United Bank of Carbon Team for communicating the role of trees in sustainability
  • The Women in Leadership LUU Society for promoting the SDGs to empower female students
  • Vera Trappmann, LUBS, for embedding sustainability in LUBS

Stay up to date

The Awards take place each summer. Sign up to the Sustainability newsletter and we’ll let you know when the winners are announced!

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

We use the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework to guide our activity. Our work on the Sustainability Awards is linked to all of the SDGs.

Find out more about our impact on the SDGs.