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University of Leeds shortlisted for four Green Gown Awards

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The University of Leeds are finalists in the 2023 UK and Ireland Green Gown Awards, after being shortlisted for four awards. The shortlisted projects are Gair Wood, Student Engagement through Residential Services and the Student Sustainability Research Conference, as well as PhD student Hazel Mooney being shortlisted for the student impact award.  

The Green Gown awards are presented to Higher and Further Education Institutions for their commitments to sustainability. The awards recognise projects, initiatives and individuals that are making a positive impact upon their institution and communities, as well as how their work has incorporated the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Winners will be announced in November 2023. 

Congratulations to everyone involved in these initiatives for their nominations! 

The four initiatives the University has been shortlisted for are:  

Research with Impact: Investing in the future – Gair Wood 

Gair Wood is a 37-hectare site in north Leeds where over 66,000 trees have been planted. Developed as part of the University’s Climate Plan and acts as a Living Lab research centre for the University. Gair Wood has been a collaborative project including United Bank of Carbon (UBoC), White Rose Forest, Leeds Ecosystem, Atmosphere and Forest (LEAF) centre, the University’s Estates team, as well as the many student, staff and community volunteers involved in planting the woodland. 

Michael Howroyd, Sustainability Project Officer leading on biodiversity at the University, has spoken about the shortlisting: 

Gair Wood is an excellent example of how we can address climate and biodiversity challenges, work together across multiple disciplines and engage and collaborate with our wider Leeds community and I am thrilled to see this recognised through the shortlisting of this award.

When asked about the shortlisting Cat Scott, director of LEAF centre, spoke:

We’re really excited about the opportunities for research and teaching that Gair Wood will provide over the coming years. From ecologists, to atmospheric scientists, to artists – there is something for every discipline to get involved with at Gair Wood.

Thomas Sloan, UBOC representative, expressed his thoughts on the shortlisting:

We're very grateful to have been nominated for this award, which is a testament to the efforts of colleagues from across the University's academic departments, the Sustainability Service, and Estates, as well as the time generously donated by all the volunteers who came along to plant trees.

A field with white protective covers on tree saplings.

Student Engagement: A blueprint for engagement (Residential Services) 

The Residential Services team is our longest-serving Blueprint team and has a visionary status Blueprint program. Their shortlisting is centered around the work they do to engage students in sustainability, including: their partnership with the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust where they undertake Wild Work Days in the Leeds, their Student Sustainability Architects in Biodiversity and Circular Resources and their work on their outdoor spaces such as their Sensory Garden and North Hill Well Wood.  

Mike Leonard, Residential Property Manager at the University Residential Services, spoke about the nomination:

Residential Services has just completed a fifth year on delivering its Blueprint action plan, and being shortlisted for the Green Gown Awards 2023 is testament to all the collaborative work achieved by both students and staff; both our internal and external partners; and so many thanks to all those involved in helping us gain this national recognition in the HE sector.

A group of people in the outdoors stood in front of a pick up truck.

Student Engagement: Student Sustainability Research Conference 2023 

The Student Sustainability Research Conference is a chance for students at all levels to share their sustainability research and learn from others through presentations, workshops and a poster exhibition. The 2023 conference involved collaboration with Yorkshire Universities and welcomed over 300 attendees and 66 presenters from 11 Higher Education Institutions across Yorkshire. 

Laura Wilkinson Hewitt, organiser of the 2023 Student Sustainability Research Conference from the Sustainability Service, spoke on the nomination: 

The Student Sustainability Research Conference was a fantastic collaborative event showcasing some inspirational student research from across Yorkshire and it's wonderful to be included in the shortlist alongside some other amazing projects and initiatives.

An aerial photo of the SSRC poster exhibition.

Sustainability Champion – Student: Hazel Mooney 

Hazel Mooney is a PhD student based in the School of Earth and Environment researching the climate side effects and co-benefits of an expansion to UK forests. For many years Hazel has been championing the voice of young people by delivering student engagement opportunities at the University and beyond to encourage young people to get involved in conservation and climate action. This includes coordinating tree planting events, social media campaigns and woodland-themed wellbeing workshops, as well as chairing the national Students for Trees programme. 

When asked about the nomination, Hazel said:  

I am so excited to be a finalist for the Student Sustainability Champion Award. This recognises the positive impact of my work to engage and mobilise young people to take action for woods and trees.

Hazel stood in a field of tree planting in a high visibility jacket and holding a clipboard.

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We use the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework to guide our activity.

Find out more about our impact on the SDGs.