Each year we celebrate the sustainable achievements of students and staff at the university with the Annual Sustainability Awards. This year, we have taken the awards online to create a celebratory digital campaign, recognising the truly inspiring work being done across the university and beyond. With a record number of nominations, the competition has never been this high, so congratulations to the winners and highly commended nominees. Find out more about them below.
“It has been truly inspiring to see the outstanding achievements of staff, students and external partners in this year’s Sustainability Awards. With a record year for nominations, we have been privileged to be able to celebrate such a diverse range of projects, activities and initiatives. It just goes to show that everyone has the power to have an impact, whatever the scale, and that sustainability really is for all.”– Dr. Louise Ellis, Director of Sustainability
The Innovation Award recognises particularly original and inventive problem-solving in creating sustainable solutions.
Climate Entrepreneurs Club Leeds: For their commitment to making real-world impact by collaborating to find innovative business solutions to climate change.
The Climate Entrepreneurs Club was started in December 2019 by a team of students and researchers from the School of Earth and Environment. In less than one year they have established themselves as a network dedicated to engaging with people from across the University, developing innovative business ideas with sustainability and climate change mitigation as the focus. Their clear, bold and innovative vision of synthesising entrepreneurial business with sustainability provides entrepreneurs within the University with the skills, knowledge and support to pursue their ambitions in line with the pressing demands of climate change. Find out more here
Harry Handford: For his Masters research project which presented an innovative, sustainable solution to the energy crisis facing rural Sub-Saharan Africa.
Jessica Rawnsley: For digitising the handling of documentation within the Alumni and Development office, making the process entirely plastic and paper free.
GFAL and Purchasing Team: For implementing the change to the Deli(very) food boxes to remove single-use plastic from their operations, supporting the #2023PlasticFree pledge.
The Collaboration Award recognises effective and innovative collaboration across and within the University, tackling sustainability issues in an interdisciplinary way.
Campus Pollinator Project Group: For the pioneering collaboration between the students, academics and operational staff that have developed this impactful research into a project that has gained global recognition.
The Campus Pollinator Project Group started as a student research project, evolving into a wider outreach project thanks to collaborative efforts of students, the Sustainability Service, the Living Lab Team, research staff and Residential Services. Given the huge importance of pollinators for the maintenance of ecosystems and crop production, the project initially sought to identify areas and increase foraging habitats for pollinators. The project adopted a collaborative approach to further its impact, particularly through applying the findings of the project to create opportunities for public engagement and enhanced wellbeing, including collaboration with the RSPB which offered multiple bird walks around the University campus. The research has been recognised both nationally by other universities keen to start up similar projects, and globally, with the research group successfully securing a place to lead a workshop at the International Sustainable Campus Network in Switzerland.
Laura Wilkinson-Hewitt and Camila Limberg-Dias: For their bold, collaborative efforts to use research and innovation to reduce single-use plastic in laboratories, eliminating around 4000 pieces of single-use plastic per year within the Protein Production Facility.
The collaborative efforts from Laura, working as a Staff Sustainability Architect in the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Camila, a Student Sustainability Architect studying MSc Sustainability and Consultancy, has furthered the research and impact of reducing the use of single-use and unnecessary plastics in laboratories. Laura’s first-hand experience in pioneering plastic reduction within laboratories provided great insights needed for Camila’s research, and enabled the pair to utilise each other’s areas of expertise to test, research and propose strategies to reduce single-use plastics in a laboratory setting. The results of this collaborative project will help the University make progress in one of the most challenging areas of the #2023plasticfree pledge and drive the strategy for removing single use plastics from laboratories.
Jill Roberts, Cleaning Services: For their collaborative efforts to reduce unnecessary plastic, using a smart-dose system, as well as improving the delivery of goods within the service to reduce emissions.
Alastair Baker: For his work in presenting ‘Design of Experiments’ workshops to researchers in the University, supporting laboratory users to reduce waste and improve efficiency in experiments.
The Communication Award recognises effective engagement in communicating any aspect of sustainability in an accessible way.
Farhat Yaqoob: For using diverse forms of communication, including one-to-one counselling; accessible and inclusive events; and through random acts of kindness, to promote sustainability, wellbeing and unity.
Farhat is the Muslim Student Advisor based in the Chaplaincy Team. Her commitment to providing one-to-one counselling support for students has provided countless students with a compassionate listening ear, and the demand for her sessions are testament to both her knowledge on the practice of the Islamic faith and her ability to make every student feel heard, valued and understood. Alongside this, Farhat leads on Team Unity – the network of staff and students that promote positivity and love across campus, seeking to unite people through similarities, regardless of home culture, religions and interests. Through weekly emails and regular events which embed both sustainability and inclusivity, Farhat’s ability to communicate the values of unity, inclusivity and compassion for people and planet are an instrumental part of pastoral and community support at the University.
Bianca Drotleff & Camila Limberg Dias: For developing and delivering a careers in sustainability workshop, ‘The Sustainability Journey’, for a multi-disciplinary student audience.
Nicholas Davison and Richard Jones: For their collaboration to produce research looking at optimising food waste management in the University sector, using Devonshire Hall as a case study.
Great Food at Leeds (Bev Kenny, Julie Tong, Liz Chadwick): For their #2023PlasticFree communication campaign across Great Food at Leeds outlets, increasing awareness of the #2023PlasticFree Pledge on campus.
The Outreach Award recognises examples of people working beyond the University with external organisations to achieve sustainability aims through positive impact partnerships. This award is open to nominations from external organisations working with the University.
Yorkshire Integrated Catchment Solutions Programmer (iCASP): For their outstanding work in collaborating with city-wide organisations to reduce local flood risks through sustainable natural flood management.
iCASP translates research into solutions to tackle problems such as flooding, pollution and climate change, and has been designed to facilitate close collaborative working with partners such as the Environment Agency and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. Taking a participatory approach, iCASP use workshops to engage with staff from across partner organisations and involve members of the community to ensure the contribution of a broad range of voices and views. As an example of their work, iCASP contributed to the development of the multi-million pound business case for Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme Part Two, advising how sustainable natural flood management measures planned upstream of Leeds could be designed, monitored and their impact measured.
Anna Gugan: For her research with the United Bank of Carbon (a charity that researches the benefits of tree planting to alleviate climate change, based in the School of Earth and Environment) and her commitment to sharing knowledge and ideas with external organisations to help inform their climate change strategies.
Anna Gugan utilises the research carried out at the United Bank of Carbon to inform a range of partners external to the University, including local authorities, charities and local schools. Anna is determined to ensure that her work helps to bring about the change that she wishes to see in the world, to help mitigate climate change and deliver sustainability in the community. Her commitment to helping partners and providing useful information to guide those developing climate change strategies is outstanding. Anna demonstrates the importance of building partnerships and sharing information to support others in achieving sustainability goals.
Communication Matters and MEETinLEEDS: For their Positive Impact Partnership that led to the launch of the Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) awards ceremony, celebrating all forms of communication and fostering inclusivity at its core.
Joanne Jordan: For her involvement in ensuring the inclusion of the #2023PlasticFree pledge in a tender for a national cleaning services framework, driving strategic sustainability.
SAIL (Sustainable Arts in Leeds): For their Leeds-wide partnerships that are working to embed sustainability in the arts and culture sector, inspiring change in similar organisations.
The Internationalisation award recognises that we are an international organisation. It celebrates innovations regarding the internationalisation of the university, and ways that this can be achieved sustainably. This could be finding sustainable ways to perform international research, increasing access of international students to sustainability themes, or anything that celebrated our global links as a University.
Student into Schools Team (SiS): For their outstanding work to make the SiS programme more inclusive for international students, whilst providing local schools with their invaluable experience and skills.
The Students into Schools programme operates across West Yorkshire to help raise the aspirations and attainment of young people, and to give University students the opportunity to develop skills in an educational setting. The International Student Office and SiS teams have partnered over the past 2 years to develop the new Go Global strand of the SiS volunteering programme, dedicated to giving increased numbers of international students access to the opportunity to develop and deliver a 6 week extra-curricular language and culture club in local primary schools and secondary schools.
A student from Vietnam who took part in 2019/20 highlights the impact of the programme in developing global citizens and supporting both students and pupils to be positive partners in society: “I am certainly not a giver, but rather a receiver, because the students let me know there is such a strong hope for a bright future where people regardless of their skin colours, cultural backgrounds from all walks of lives can embrace the individual differences and love each other… I have an absolute belief that through early education for children, especially in a diverse country like the UK, we can bring out the best versions of themselves and connecting this world with physical borders but boundless connectivity.”
Student and Staff volunteers: For their engagement with Yorkshire Trust Wild Working Days, improving natural flood defenses in the Aire catchment, and creating a sense of community for a wide range of domestic and international students and staff.
Lifetime Achievement Award
For the first time this year the University has recognised an individual for their commitment to Sustainability while working at the University with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Sue Keat has been one of the longest-serving sustainability advocates at the University of Leeds, with over 40 years working as a research technician in the Leeds Dental Institute, demonstrating incredible enthusiasm. Sue was one of the first to sign up as an ‘Environmental Co-Ordinator’ and regularly contributed to university discussions and initiatives on how we can improve and progress sustainability at the University. As the Sustainability service has grown, she has continued to play an invaluable role, not least as one the very first members of Reuse@Leeds, a Leeds based item reuse network, but also by being amongst the first to sign her department up to the Green Impact programme in 2010, now the Blueprint programme.
‘Sue has had an exceptional impact and most certainly has helped in building the firm foundations that make the University the sustainable organisation it is today. We wish her all the best in a long and happy retirement.’
– Michael Howroyd, Sustainability Projects Officer
Congratulations to all of this year’s winners whose work reflects some of the most exciting progress happening now to embed sustainability across the University, and beyond.
Celebrate your impact
We want to carry on the celebration of sustainability across the University with all the great things you have been doing. No matter how big or small we want to hear about it! Share your stories with us on social media and be part of our #MyImpact campaign. Tag us on Instagram or Twitter (@UoL_Sus) and use #MyImpact so we can share and celebrate all the great things you’ve been doing.