Living Lab for Air Quality

The Living Lab for Air Quality began in November 2017, with the aim of building our knowledge of air quality and pollution on campus to shape action that drives improvements to our environment and to the health of our students, staff, and community.

Findings from the Living Lab have been used to inform decision making and policy, including the Landscape Strategy and Travel Plan, helping to reduce emissions from vehicles and limit exposure to poor air quality.

The Living Lab for Air Quality continues to expand through collaborations between the Sustainability Service, the Institute for Climate & Atmospheric Science (ICAS), the Centre of Excellence for Modelling the Atmosphere and Climate (CEMAC), the Institute for Transport Studies and the School of Civil Engineering. We are also working with Leeds City Council to grow the project and its influence into the city.

Campus Air Quality Monitoring

Initially carried out as a twelve-month monitoring programme in 2018, the Living Lab gathers, analyses and maps air quality in and around the University of Leeds. Staff and student volunteers use handheld equipment to measure particulate matter before the data is uploaded to the CEMAC website, producing a visualisation of average particulate concentrations (example below).

The idea is for all data to be open access so that staff, students and others can use it for reference, research and teaching. Due to some website changes you currently need to request access to the data from CEMAC (cemac@leeds.ac.uk).

We have been working to set up some fixed air quality monitoring sites on the University estate. Colleagues in the School of Earth & Environment have been developing innovative, low-cost microsensors for use in another project in Bradford. We hope to install some of these on-campus and at the Brownlee Centre in Headingley to provide more real-time data. We will also complete the installation of a new air quality monitoring space on the roof of the Laidlaw Library.

To take part in campus monitoring, or to build further on this project, please contact the Sustainability Service sustainability@leeds.ac.uk.

Long term average concentration map

Commuter Exposure Research

Students from the Institute for Transport Studies have been researching pollution exposure on our key staff and student commuter routes. Through a number of dissertation projects, students are carrying monitoring equipment with them whilst they drive, cycle, walk or sit on public transport so that we can compare how much pollution we are exposed to using different routes and transport methods. This provides us with great insights to support active travel for staff and students. A snapshot of findings can be seen below!

Indoor Air Quality

Working in collaboration with staff and students in the School of Civil Engineering, we have been exploring the relationship between indoor and outdoor air quality in University teaching spaces. Measuring particulate matter (2.5 and 10) and CO2 gives us an indication of air quality and helps us to develop our understanding of how various spaces are performing in terms of ventilation.

We know that there is a relationship between air quality, wellbeing and productivity, and we hope to further develop this research in the next year. If you would like to get involved then please let us know at sustainability@leeds.ac.uk.

Sustainability Dashboard

Led by a team in CEMAC, we are in the early stages of developing a dashboard for the visualisation of environmental data sets from across campus and the wider City. The concept initially envisages a geographic display of air quality and weather data, with the ability to display time series and averages for specific locations. There is a huge potential for open data sharing across the city that we can harness to support research and teaching and to drive sustainable solutions.

As soon as we develop something, we will share it here. If you would like to get involved, share your expertise or link a project, please get in touch by emailing the Sustainability Service sustainability@leeds.ac.uk.

Keep up to date on the latest news

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

We use the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework to guide our activity. Living Lab for Air Quality work is linked to the following SDGs:

    • Goal 3: Good Health and Wellbeing
    • Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
    • Goal 13: Climate Action
    • Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals

Find out more about our impact on the SDGs.