This year, the annual Sustainability Awards will be on Wednesday 12th June. As well as celebrating the outstanding work being done by people across the University to make the campus more sustainable, we will also be looking back. 2019 is the 10-year anniversary of the Bike Hub, who keep the staff and students of Leeds travelling sustainably by offering bike hire, repairs and training (and plenty of biscuits!). It has also been 10 years since we started employing student interns in the Sustainability Service, bringing fresh ideas and student opinions to the team.
The Vice Chancellor will be presenting awards for the four sustainability strategy themes – Embedding Sustainability through Collaboration, Building Knowledge and Capacity, Being a Positive Partner in Society and Making the Most of Resources. There will also be a Sustainable Purchasing Award, and two student awards for curricular and non-curricular work. The nominations for the awards are now closed.
After this, there will then be an entirely vegan, locally sourced (where possible) two course dinner . Vegan wine and soft drink options will accompany what is always known to be a delicious meal, changing the perspectives of a vegan menu.
Finally, we will then be celebrating the first year of our new engagement programme, Blueprint. Launched in October 2018, this replaced the Green Impact programme, creating a bespoke sustainability action plan for individual Schools and Services. This programme is proving to be very popular, having already reached a wider audience than we achieved with the Green Impact programme!
As always, the striking table decorations will be designed and supplied by the staff and children of Bright Beginnings Childcare Centre.
Over the last few weeks, you may have noticed changes to the Roger Stevens Pond. The development was part of a multidisciplinary, collaborative project supported by the University’s Living Lab. The University’s Sustainability Services Team worked with Estates Services, School of Biological Sciences, School of Geography and the School of Civil Engineering to transform the cooling pond into a promoter for biodiversity and scientific research. We are also installing water quality monitoring equipment at the pond at the Brownlee Centre to extend the scope and potential for the project. There is a hope that once the neutrality of the water is in balance we will introduce fish to the pond. Don’t worry about the ducks – they have flown south for the winter and we await their return to their new home!
This project came about due to the operational need to improve the pond, to reduce operational costs and to increase biodiversity value. There are further benefits to come from this development scheme; enhancing biodiversity and research opportunities. The pond will be monitored throughout the year by PhD student, Dan Warren, from the School of Biology. The sensors installed by Sustainability Services and the School of Geography will provide data for research across a number of Schools and Faculties. By working in collaboration with Estates and Sustainability, anybody can use the pond as a living lab for their research. This might be dissertations, assessed projects or even fieldwork modules.
The Leeds Living Lab is a programme coordinated by the Sustainability Services and drives the University’s commitment to embedding sustainability through knowledge, engagement, collaboration and innovation. The Living Lab has already brought together over 140 operational and academic staff and students to identify and deliver sustainable solutions through research and innovation, using the University campus as a test bed. This allows us to create real world solutions on a campus or city-wide scale. In the last year interdisciplinary teams from across the University have developed nine collaborative projects and created ten individual student project and dissertation partnerships. We encourage staff and students to make the most of our campus and consider how their research or studies might benefit from using the campus as a test bed.
Following the University’s recent pledge to become single-use plastic free and the launch of the #2023PlasticFree campaign, Leeds Living Lab has funding available to support research and innovation projects that seek solutions and alternatives to single-use plastics across the University of Leeds (UoL) and Leeds University Union (LUU). Applications are open until Friday 1st February 2019.
UoL and LUU have together pledged to become single-use plastic free by 2023, with catering and office spaces achieving the target by 2020 and additional years to address more challenging areas such as laboratory equipment.
Collaboration and the use of the University as a test-bed are at the heart of the Leeds Living Lab and these funds will be used to provide match funding and seedcorn funding in support of projects which seek solutions to single-use plastics across the University through academic and non-academic partnerships.
Applications will be assessed by members of the Sustainability Steering Group based on the following criteria:
Fit to the principles of the Leeds Living Lab
Alignment with the University’s Sustainability Strategy
Potential to support the University’s single-use plastic pledge
Quality of potential outputs and impacts
We welcome applications led by University of Leeds academics, students (including UG, PG and PhD), research staff (including postdoctoral researchers), and professional and managerial staff across all Schools and Services of the University, and particularly those that develop new interdisciplinary collaborations. Students must have the permission of their supervisor to make the application.
Funding is split into the following two categories:
Collaborative research project seedcorn or match funding
Funding is available for research and/or trials of innovative solutions and alternatives to single-use plastics across the University of Leeds. This might include but is not limited to development of new materials, assessment and analysis of current practices, behavioral studies, and tests or trials of innovative solutions.
Funding requested must not exceed £2000 and cannot be used to pay overheads.
Student curricular project grants (i.e. a dissertation or assessed project as part of an UG/PG module)
Funding is available to support student projects focused on solutions and alternatives to single-use plastics across the University of Leeds. This might include but is not limited dissertations or assessed work on the development of new materials, assessment and analysis of current practices, behavioral studies, and tests or trials of innovative solutions.
Funding requested must not exceed £500 and students must ensure that they have the permission of their supervisor before applying.
At Leeds, we strive to promote research and learning that makes an impact on global challenges and is truly interdisciplinary. Our focus is on six key areas: health, water, food, energy, culture and cities.
Through these, we can examine sustainability from a number of perspectives including low carbon solutions, transport, ecology, cultural values, climate change and hydrology. This strategy and related work will support these key research themes, as well as a wide range of other research activities that link with sustainability.
Sustainability shapes everything we do – what we teach, learn, buy, use and share. It is a fundamental part of ensuring we have a positive impact on everyone and everything.
Find out more about how to embed sustainability into your research in the context of your discipline and other useful resources below.
Why Research Sustainability?
Some of the benefits of incorporating sustainability into your research are;
Employers are actively seeking graduates who understand the core concepts of both present and future environmental, social and economic challenges. It will stand you out from the crowd!
Sustainability is an interdisciplinary field, so the vast majority of students can easily incorporate sustainability aspects within their research in a way that aligns with their interests; from exploring how low carbon energy solutions can be integrated into rural areas, to investigating the social impact of the arts in communicating ethical purchasing.
Tailoring your research project to address a sustainability theme actively contributes to having a positive impact in society, as your work will be focussing on real challenges and actions for positive change.
Each year Sustainability Services hosts a limited number of dissertations which align with key priorities. Key areas for 2019/20 include reducing single-use plastics, carbon management, students as Leeds residents and embedding sustainability in the curriculum. We encourage you to submit your ideas around each of these topics to email@example.com.
The Living Lab is open to everyone. It brings together students, staff and partners from research, teaching and operational teams to co-produce innovative and transformational solutions to real-world sustainability challenges, using the campus as a test-bed. It is interdisciplinary and drives continual, sustainable improvement by tackling global challenges at the local scale.
Whether it is a research-led campus design addressing the challenges of climate change, trialling new sustainability initiatives with staff or students, or integrating biodiversity and wellbeing, the Living Lab programme is open to all staff and students across the University. It’s about people, processes and infrastructure and focuses on the cultural and social sciences as well as STEM.
Living Lab for Air Quality
One of our flagship projects, the Living Lab for Air Quality is just getting underway. To find out more about how we are measuring and mapping air quality in and around the University of Leeds Campus click here.
LivingLabScape: i-Tree Leeds Campus Survey
This project is a collaboration between the Sustainability Service and Leeds4Trees – a partnership of LEAF(Leeds Ecosystem, Atmosphere & Forest Centre), the UnitedBank of Carbon (UBoC) and Leeds City Council. We are exploring the value of trees and green spaces across campus as a pilot study for a City-wide project. The findings of the project will enable us to take an even better account of the value of trees when planning campus development. You can use the map below to explore the details of the project’s findings so far and read more about the project here.
LivingLabScape: Biofiltration Systems
The Sustainability Service and Estates Services have collaborated with the School of Civil Engineering to investigate the design and configuration of biofiltration systems for sustainable urban drainage in the UK climate, using the University campus as a test-bed. This is part of the LivingLabScape stream of projects.
Biofiltration systems are landscaped Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SuDS) that provide rainfall-runoff reduction, peak flow attenuation and stormwater runoff treatment. They have a small footprint so can be retrofitted into the existing urban landscape which makes them ideal for locations such as the University of Leeds campus. The project, therefore, aims to assess feasibility and opportunities for their uptake in this context.
Phase 1 of the project is already complete and has included lab-based work to establish the appropriate soil matrix. Phase 2 focusses on plant growth trials and has just got underway with the installation of 24 biofilter columns at our Bardon Grange site in Leeds. PhD student Andrea Aiello will carry out 6 months of investigations to establish the optimum biofilter design and recommendations for Phase 3 – a pilot biofilter on campus!
The Food Waste Living Lab
Food waste is a global challenge and the University of Leeds aims to lead the way in innovative approaches to reducing waste from our catering, cafes and restaurants. We are therefore developing a Food Waste Living Lab. The Sustainability Service has collaborated with the School of Chemical & Process Engineering (SCaPE) and the Centre for Doctoral Training for Bioenergy to look at the feasibility of a variety of technological and behavioural approaches. We have also been developing an interdisciplinary network of food waste research across the University to allow us to take a more collaborative approach moving forwards. Sustainability Services are currently working with SCaPE to analyse the recommendations so keep an eye out for the next phase soon.
The Mixed Ability Sport (MAS) model is yet to be applied to a University setting but could prove an effective way to increase sports participation in underrepresented groups, as well as to achieve greater social inclusion and community building. The Living Lab is, therefore, collaborating with the Sustainability Research Institute(SRI) and the Sport & Physical Activity Service (SPA) to carry out a pilot project to evaluate whether there is a need for a MAS offering at the University of Leeds. Find out more here.
Last Mile Deliveries
Large numbers of courier vehicles deliver parcels and packages to our Schools and Services around campus. Staff and students increasingly utilise the benefits of online orders with next day delivery to support research, teaching and operational activities. Such volumes of vehicle movement have an impact on congestion as well as local air quality.
We have made great strides in reducing the volume of vehicle movement by working with Go Getter Dispatch bike couriers to deliver campus post. However, goods and parcels delivered by external courier services remain a complex and fragmented challenge that is difficult to monitor and manage. The Facilities Directorateis, therefore, collaborating with the Institute for Transport Studies to map the flow of courier vehicles around our campus and to highlight potential future improvement projects that might help reduce local congestion and pollution.
LivingLabScape: Sustainable Garden
Based on the gold award-winning RHS flower show entry in 2012 by the University’s water@leeds, the Sustainable Garden is an excellent example of collaborative working between the Facilities Directorate, Leeds University Union and academic staff. It provides a multi-functional space for staff, students and visitors.
All can engage in the cultivation of the edible garden, wildflower areas, soft fruit hedgerows, insect houses and pocket habitats. Regular gardening sessions allow volunteers to learn new skills, research pods are utilised for undergraduate student study, and the space as a whole offers a valuable teaching area, particularly for Biology and Geography modules.
We are in the process of summarising some of the recent research activity that has taken place in the Garden and will share it here soon.
Creating Sustainable Futures
As part of Broadeningat the University of Leeds, one of our ten Discovery Themes is called Creating Sustainable Futures. This UK Green Gown Award-winning project offers students across the University the opportunity to study sustainability modules as part of their degree. Students are able to tackle real-life sustainability challenges through practical projects. Research findings, data and solutions are shared with university operational staff, local communities and businesses to drive continual sustainable improvement.
Our Sustainable Labs Working Group was established in 2013 to support and monitor the implementation of sustainability actions to reduce the impacts of our laboratory network. It brings together Lab Managers, Technicians, Academics and Estates Services from across the University to work together collaboratively and share best practice.
We regularly host S-lab events and seminars to take forward our sustainability projects such as Reuse@Leeds:labs which allow users to share items like electrical equipment, glassware and chemicals through our popular reuse site.
Examples of past projects and research can be found below. The dissertation projects all aligned with Living Lab principles.
The Living Lab is able to offer funding to projects that meet the core principles of the programme. We are particularly looking for projects that require seed funding to get off the ground or match funding as part of a collaborative partnership. This might be between Schools, Faculties, Services or even external stakeholders. Find out more at: sustainability.leeds.ac.uk/the-living-lab
To view Living Lab research opportunities that the Sustainability Service have identified, as well as current projects already taking place pleaseCLICK HERE.
If you share your sustainability research or findings on social media then please tag us @UoL_Sus.
Where to start?
The Final Chapter web pages contain lots of useful information for undergraduate and taught postgraduate students working on research projects or dissertations. It covers choosing your topic, doing a literature review, structuring your work and critical thinking. You can also watch videos of staff and students from the University of Leeds sharing their top tips for success.
Stuck for a project idea? Can’t think how sustainability applies to your subject? CLICK HERE to explore the diversity of work presented at the Annual Student Sustainability Research Conference, which attracts presenters from across all Faculties at Leeds, sharing their research or curricular projects which have a focus on sustainability themes.
From Art to Zoo Management
Not sure how sustainability applies to your subject? Check out NUS’s ‘From Art to Zoo Management‘ guide and see some examples of how your discipline could apply to sustainability.
We are always happy to help any student with queries on doing a sustainability-themed project. Visit the contact us page and leave us a message telling us what specific questions or data needs you have!
At the University of Leeds, we recognise the value of staff and alumni becoming school governors and the positive impact this on children, communities and the University. We also have a clear strategic commitment to widening participation and to positively contribute to making Leeds the great City it is.
As part of our commitments, we are working in collaboration with the charity Governors for Schools to increase the number of staff and alumni serving as School Governors in schools across Leeds and West Yorkshire. Our programme has been developed to provide support to both existing and prospective school governors. As well as helping staff and alumni interested in school governance to find vacancies, we offer support and networking opportunities to everyone involved in our programme.
Have an interest in influencing and making a difference to children’s education and give children the best possible opportunities in life.
Have the ability to work collaboratively to meet a school’s aims and objectives.
Want to put your skills and experience to good use and offer schools on outsider’s perspective.
Have an interest in gaining new insights into the education system.
Would like to develop new skills and experience to enhance your own professional development.
Would like to act as an ambassador for the University’s work with local schools.
Staff and Alumni interested in becoming School Governors can register with our charity partner Governors for Schools here.Someone from the charity will be in touch about next steps with being matched with a school.  Please note, that Governors for Schools is a registered charity and operates independently from the University of Leeds. Your progress and any school placement details will be collected and monitored by the University.
The University of Leeds School Governors Network
Any staff and alumni interested in becoming a school governor or are already working with schools can register to be involved with our School Governor Network. Members benefit from our programme of support. Networking opportunities include a Jiscmail group and networking events through the year to facilitate the exchange of experiences, share best practice and provide support to staff and alumni in their roles. Register your involvement by completing a short questionnaire, herehttp://sustainability.leeds.ac.uk/university-of-leeds-school-governors-network-registration/
Hot Topics for School Governors Webinar- Free Webinar
Thursday 16 May @ 8am-9am, or
Monday 20 May @ 7pm-8pm
This free webinar will help governors in maintained schools and academies get up to speed with what is happening in education that is relevant to their role. The session will be invaluable preparation ahead of board meetings this term.
This term’s topics will include:
New Relationship & Sex Education Guidance
New Teacher Recruitment Website
New Related Party Transactions reporting requirements for Academy Trusts
New Interactive School Financial Value Standard (SFVS) 2019-20
DfE funding to schools for Teachers’ Pension increases
If other stories surface between now and the day, the list may be subject to change.
N.B. This webinar will be held on two dates. You can select which session to attend on the sign-up page.
In this free webinar we’ll look at what governors in maintained schools and academies need to know if they are recruiting a new headteacher.
Traditionally most headteachers are recruited in summer term, so this timely webinar will prepare governors for their part in the process and ensure they understand their responsibilities. We’ll explore the full process of headteacher recruitment including the initial steps, advertising, shortlisting and selection techniques.
This free webinar will explore how governors, trustees and those serving on local academy committees can ensure, through rigorous self-evaluation and reflection, that governance is effective and fit for purpose within their school or trust. We will explore both the rationale behind effective self-evaluation and some of the tools and techniques that boards can use.
Governors for Schools webinars are supported by Lloyds Banking Group
How to get involved with School Governance- Free Webinar
December 18 @ 11.30-12.30pm
We believe the key to improving school performance is effective governance. By finding, nurturing and supporting a committed network of governors we help to drive systematic change in how schools operate.
Find out how you can get involved and what the benefits are to you and the community in a free webinar hosted by Governors for Schools. Governors for Schools exists to improve educational standards so that children and young people have the chance to realise their full potential.
Effective School Governance- Free Networking Event
December 19 @ 12-1pm
Led by the Leeds Governor Support Service, this lunchtime session will explore what it takes to become an effective school governor and run an effective school board. This is also a great opportunity to meet and network with other school governors over a mince pie.
If you are a School Head or Chair of Governors looking to fill a current vacancy, you can register your vacancies with our partner Governors for Schools. They offer a bespoke matching service focused on finding the best school governors to support schools across England. Register your vacancies through this link.
This initiative complements the existing staff opportunities offered through the Sustainability Strategy. See the other staff opportunities available through the Sustainability Service here.
Sustainability is part of being a student at the University of Leeds, no matter what your discipline. It’s that simple.
Sustainability is cross-disciplinary, perfectly slotting into undergraduate and postgraduate courses and opening up a rich seam of research possibilities. Concepts, issues and innovations relating to sustainability are integrated into our learning programmes.
Alongside formal learning, we are also committed to supporting you to develop, understand and communicate the skills that you have – from volunteering, internships and becoming sustainability auditors to getting out and trying your hand at beekeeping.
The University offers undergraduate,PGT and PGR degree programmes that develop students’ knowledge, skills and experience of sustainability issues and solutions, enabling them to contribute effectively to tackling global challenges. Please visit the University of Leeds Course Finder for further details.
Programmes of study are made up of different modules: compulsory, optional and discovery modules. All Discovery Modules sit within the University’s ten Discovery Themes and give undergraduate students the opportunity to broaden their academic experience and enhance your employability. Students can choose to take a Discovery Module which develops a specific skill or which allows you to pursue a personal interest.
We celebrate and showcase the amazing work our students have completed through modules and their research at our Student Sustainability Research Conference. This conference promotes the sharing of ideas between students and staff and helps promote best practice in research and teaching.
Awards & Scholarships
Living Lab Funding
Are you a student considering a sustainability dissertation or other assessed project as part of your studies? You could use the campus as your test bed, gather or analyse data that supports the delivery of the University’s Sustainability Strategy, or work directly with operational staff to help identify sustainable improvements.
Discovering Sustainability is a student-led journal in the Sustainability Research Institute at the University of Leeds. The purpose of this journal is to publicise the work of students as producers of education, research and outreach. Find out more and submit your work at discuss.leeds.ac.uk.
We report our progress throughout the year to the University Executive Group via the Sustainability Steering Group, Student Education Board, and in our Annual Sustainability Report. Through this process, we assess our achievements and agree on future plans to ensure that we stay on track on our commitment to embed sustainability across the curriculum.
Please contactKelly Forster for further details of how we can support you.
Hi, I’m Aminah and after about 6 weeks, I will be in year 11 for my final year of my GCSE’s at Roundhay High School. I have been here with the sustainability team for 2 weeks of work experience, and I’m so glad I have! The team looked after me really well, on top of giving me lots to do and learn. This whole experience has given me a much better understanding of what subjects I may pursue as I move onto A-level, because I can now link the subjects with degrees I learned about, that I may want to do.
On my first day (Monday), I got a huge tour of the University campus, which I’m really grateful for because if not I would have got lost countless times during these two weeks. It was also really interesting to see all of the different schools, and how much variety there is with degrees, that I before was oblivious about.
Tuesday was especially good, because a free breakfast was served due to 4th July, along with its supposed theme, which made me feel extremely welcomed. During the rest of the day, I was in a laboratory for the first time. Working with Jane-Marie, who is a laboratory manager in the School of Earth and Environment, where I was setting up for the Environmental Science Academy field trip about water ecology for the next day, and getting a head start with all I was to do the following day. This was incredible, and probably the day I learned the most.
The Wednesday and Thursday of my first week, was probably the highlight of my work experience. I absolutely loved being out on the field and discovering things for myself, and meeting new people. On the Thursday I was actually volunteering on the trip as supposed to the day before where I was taking part. Volunteering gave me a responsibility I wouldn’t usually carry, but did inspire me to volunteer more when I can, because I never knew how much I enjoyed it until then. I also think I will defiantly keep my eye out for more field trips in the future to get involved in, because it’s an amazing opportunity that I’ll kick myself if I miss.
To finish up my first week, I mainly stayed with the sustainability team, doing an online research task, where I learned about how other universities are tackling issues of laboratory sustainability, compared to the University of Leeds, and then using this information to suggest improvements to the sustainability team.
Overall my first week was super enriching for me with new experiences and information, and I would do it all again if I could. I never knew the extent of how interesting and engaging sustainability and the Earth & Environment subjects could be until now.
On the Wednesday of my second week I did some tree surveying as part of a research project on campus, where as a group we went out and recorded data about the trees in St. George’s field. We also tried identifying what they were, however it was quite tricky because there are so many variations of the same tree. It was a new experience for me and I’m glad I did it because it was a nice break, and the weather was lovely too.
For the other four days I stayed in the office and continued to develop on the research tasks and gather as much information as I could. I also attended a sustainability meeting. I think it was important for me to experience what a work environment was like, and I’m glad I have because I’ve come to find it’s not as daunting as I thought it was, and for the record…way better than school!
To conclude, my whole work experience has been phenomenal, thanks to the whole sustainability team, and I wish you all the best. A special thanks to Claire Bastin for offering me to come in the first place, I enjoyed it immensely, and I hope other work experience students share the same extraordinary experiences as I did.
This course is suitable for all academic, professional and support staff
with management and/or leadership roles across the University. This
course will be essential for managers who are involved in delivering the
University vision and strategic aims, and therefore need to know how to
implement elements of the University’s Sustainability Strategy as
relevant to their own roles.
Main topics covered will be:
• Sustainability: what do we mean and why is it important
• The Sustainability Strategy: Overview; Sustainability initiatives
and outcomes; Progress against the action plan; Implications for
• Setting sustainability aims and objectives: personal objective
setting for sustainable outcomes in your teams
Learning and teaching methods:
The session will be very ‘hands
on’ with only short, information giving, presentations including
examples of real world scenarios. Individual and group work will be
included in the session.
By the end of the session delegates will:
• Understand what sustainability is and why it is important for the
• Be equipped with the skills to identify sustainability issues in
work and wider contexts.
• Know about the University’s Sustainability Strategy and approach
to embedding sustainability.
• Understand the implications of the strategy for their roles and
develop an individual action plan relevant to their school/service/role.
• Know who to speak to about any ongoing issues they might have and
started to develop an action plan to achieve their own sustainability
Positive Impact Partners (PIP) is the University’s flagship programme designed to increase collaboration with the Third Sector, build capacity and positively contribute to our local communities.
Through PIP we connect staff together with local Third Sector organisations to exchange knowledge and skills, share resources and form new collaborative partnerships, designed to create mutual benefit. Our programme benefits our PIP partners, the University, Third Sector organisations and in making a positive impact on society.
PIP has matched local charitable and social benefit organisations with staff who can provide advice on a range of professional and business skills, as well as knowledge on a wide variety of academic disciplines. The diverse skill set available at the University has enabled Third Sector organisations to succeed where they have been previously struggling and helped build capacity in the city to deal with societal issues.
In return, PIP has created University research and curriculum projects and offered volunteering, internship and research opportunities for our staff and students. Staff also gain new insights from their Third Sector partner’s background and history that can be used in their own personal and professional development.
The PIP offer to staff and Third Sector partners is formed through the programme based on the objectives developed by partners with our support through the PIP induction workshops. The personal PIP plans we offer partners involve a combination of networking opportunities, workshops on a particular area of expertise, one to one expertise and support or the creation of new collaborative partnerships to deliver new mutually beneficial projects. Ultimately, PIP is about the creation of organisational and personal development opportunities for everyone involved!
Get Involved- Third Sector Partners
Find out more about the range of support and benefits PIP provides to the third sector, charitable organisations, state-funded schools and any other societal-benefit organisations, and how you can get involved.Find out more and apply.
Get Involved- Staff
Find information on how staff benefit from working with the Third Sector and how you can get involved. Find out more and apply.
See the other staff opportunities available through the Sustainability Service here.
The Living Lab drives the University’s commitment to embedding sustainability through knowledge, engagement, collaboration and innovation. It brings together students, academic and operational staff to research and test sustainable solutions, enhance our curriculum and tackle global challenges at a local scale, using the University as a test bed.
Whether it is a research-led campus design adapting to climate change, trialling new sustainability initiatives, or integrating wellbeing and biodiversity, we encourage staff and students from all Schools and Services across the University to get involved with the Living Lab.