Sustainability Awards 2019

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.

Nominations for the awards are now closed.

Single Out #2023PlasticFree

In 2018 The University of Leeds and Leeds University Union together pledged to become single-use plastic-free by 2023.

This commitment to phase out single-use plastic across the board, not just in catering and office spaces is a very complex challenge. It involves mapping plastic use across the University and Union and then identifying action plans to end its use through finding alternatives and changing ways of working. It will also require working with external partners and supply chains to phase out the amount of plastic products and packaging coming onto campus.

The pledge commits catering and office spaces to becoming single-use plastic-free by 2020, with the longer-term goal of lab space and other services by 2023. This is a very ambitious target and will involve collaboration, research and operational changes to be successful.

Take a look at our strategy for how we plan to achieve this.

How can I help?

Progress so far

1 million pieces already removed

One million pieces of single-use plastic have been removed from use across the University and Union during the first year of the pledge.

This is a fantastic achievement – colleagues across the University have really taken the plastic-free pledge on and accomplished some brilliant things and we can already celebrate some notable successes.

Successes so far

  • Devonshire Hall

    Devonshire Hall catering team has replaced sauce and spread sachets with self-serve bowls at mealtimes, cutting out more than 86,000 items per year

  • School of Earth and Environment

    Cohen Laboratory in the School of Earth and Environment changed its way of working to stop using single-use centrifuge racks, saving thousands of these items per year

  • Great Food at Leeds

    Affine café in Nexus was developed with the Plastic Free Pledge in mind, removing single-use plastics from its fresh food preparation and presentation, only providing hot drinks in mugs and reusable cups and selling soft drinks in glass bottles or cans

How can you help?

We need everyone’s support to achieve the 2023 target!

We’ve developed an Offices Toolkit to help our colleagues by providing the latest advice and guidance on how to remove single-use plastic from offices. If you’re a staff member click here to access the Offices Toolkit and start your journey towards being single-use plastic free. The toolkit includes:

  • Posters to print and stick up in your area to raise awareness of your contribution to the #2023plasticfree campaign
  • Template documents to review your working area and create an action plan to make changes
  • Case studies of progress across the University; from single-use plastic free washing up facilities to teaching resources

Tell us about a change you’ve made

Have you made a change within your place of work or study to contribute towards the #2023plasticfree pledge?

If so, let us know about it because we’d like to add it to our grand total (of pieces removed) and help other department make progress by sharing best practice across the University!

Please download this form and email the completed document to – one of our team will be in touch to discuss this further.

What’s planned for 2020?

Our main priorities for the next year include:

  • focusing on catering and offices to make them single-use plastic-free by the end of the year
  • engaging with retail partners and suppliers to find innovative solutions to remove single-use plastic from their packaging
  • working with procurement to understand our plastic footprint further, across all areas of the University; and
  • promoting best practice and sharing knowledge to encourage further activity, both within the University and across the Leeds city region and the HE sector as a whole
To get more information on the #2023plasticfree campaign complete the form below;
Fields marked with an * are required

We care about your privacy. The Sustainability team will only contact you regarding our #2023plasticfree in line with our privacy policy. If you'd like to hear more about the work that we do you can sign up to our monthly email newsletter.

Our strategy

To achieve our ambition of a single-use plastic-free University we will work closely with stakeholders including staff, students and suppliers, to identify plastics and develop action plans to remove them or replace them with sustainable alternatives.

The delivery strategy involves three key elements; operational changes, research and collaboration, which are all underpinned by communication, engagement and governance. Details of these areas have been outlined below:

  1. Operational changes
    These are the operational changes required across the University to manage and reduce single use plastic. This will involve mapping single use plastic, building the knowledge and capacity of staff, and changing policies, guidelines and processes of operational procedures in support of the pledge.
  1. Research
    We will actively encourage and support research around single use plastic, including alternatives, infrastructure developments and behaviour change. This will be encouraged through academics projects, student curriculum projects and our Living Lab programme.
  1. Collaboration
    We will build networks of activity internally between our staff and students and externally with our stakeholders, supply chain and sector partners in order to share learning overcome the challenges together.

Contact us

Get in touch with us and show us what you’re doing through our social media using #2023plasticfree and tagging us on Twitter @UoL_Sus, Instagram @uol_sus  and Facebook @UolSustainability or email ideas to

To understand our definition of single-use plastic, why we made the pledge and details behind the timeframe, view our current FAQ page here.

Roger Stevens Pond Development

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.


Go Higher West Yorkshire – St Agnes Parents Group

Sometimes it is as simple as a conversation, with the right person, that sparks an idea and starts to build a strong relationship. In June 2017 the Outreach Officer for Leeds College of Building and the Area Manager for Leeds Go Higher West Yorkshire met with the Reverend of St Agnes church, Burmantofts, Leeds.

Since that date, and with the additional support of the Go Higher West Yorkshire (GHWY) officers from Leeds City College, Kirklees College and the University of Leeds, a parents group has formed. Workshops are delivered to around 30 parents and carers each time (and sometimes young people too)! The workshops are tailored to the groups’ needs and vary in topics including apprenticeships, futures in health, what are the different routes and options in Higher Education. All workshops involve the opportunity to meet current students, and students that reflect the young people from Burmantofts.

Go Higher West Yorkshire are led by the University of Leeds and host to the GHWY central team. GHWY are formally recognised by Office for Students as the Single Point of Contact (SPOC) for all 11-18 schools in West Yorkshire, as well as primary schools and businesses.

Find out more about projects that the University of Leeds is involved in by signing up to our bi-monthly community newsletter at  

Are your noisy neighbours keeping you awake at night?

If you home life or studies are being affected by a noisy neighbour, help is at hand to get you a good night’s sleep.  The University is working with Leeds City Council’s Antisocial Behaviour Team and the other universities and colleges in the City to minimise noise nuisance in local communities. Whether the noise is a one-off, a regular occurrence, during the day or an evening, you can receive help by reporting the nuisance to the services detailed below. For practical tips on parties to avoid causing any problems for your neighbours and enforcement action, take a look at our Students in Communities webpages. 

Leeds Antisocial Behaviour Team

Statutory noise nuisance is investigated by Leeds Antisocial Behaviour Team.  They can be contacted through the following.

Noise that happens during the day:
Complete the online form or call the team on 0113 222 4402, 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Noise that happens at night or at weekends/bank holidays:
The Council operates a night-time response service in partnership with West Yorkshire Police. If the problem is noise outside of office hours, please ring 0113 376 0337. This is available from 6pm to 3:30am. Noise at night-time should only be reported when the noise is occurring. The service availability is subject to demand and although they may not be able to stop the noise for you, they may provide further evidence to back up your allegations.

Universities and Colleges Neighbourhood Helpline

The Helpline is a 24-hour dedicated voicemail and email service operated by the University of Leeds in partnership with Leeds Beckett University, Leeds Trinity University College, Leeds City College and Leeds College of Music.   The Helpline is a service for all members of the local community to help resolve any neighbourhood problems involving our students and to build better relationships between neighbours.

Get in touch with us if your are experiencing any problem with your student neighbours. We can work with you and prevent this from becoming a recurring issueContact Us: by telephone (24hr voicemail service): 0113 343 1064, by Email: , or complete our online form.


Living Lab Project Call: Single-use plastics at the University of Leeds

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:

  1. Fit to the principles of the Leeds Living Lab
  2. Alignment with the University’s Sustainability Strategy
  3. Potential to support the University’s single-use plastic pledge
  4. 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:


  1. 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.

Please complete the application form at and return by email to before midnight on Friday 1st February 2019.


  1. 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.

Please complete the application form at and return by email to before midnight on Friday 1st February 2019.

All enquiries should be directed to



Sustainable Campus Map

Welcome to our brand-new Sustainability Campus Map! Here we have documented all the projects going on around campus. It also shows where the available amenities are on campus.

You can remove layers from the map by clicking the eye icons on the menu, this makes it easier to find something specific.

Interested in air quality on campus? Click here to check out the Air Quality Map created by one of our Living Lab projects.

To see a full-screen version of the map below, please click here

See full screen

See full screen

Water cooler locations were audited in Spring 2019. Some rooms or buildings may not be publicly accessible. Should you wish to report a change to a drinking water point, please email

School Governor Programme

At the University of Leeds, we recognise the value to staff and alumni becoming school governors and the positive impact this has 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.

If you…

  • 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.

School governance is a great opportunity for you! 

Read our blog to find out what governance means to each volunteer and why we are calling on more staff and alumni to become a school Governor.

Download our School Governors Briefing for information on the School Governor role, the benefits and what you can expect from the role.  (PDF)

Local Schools Need Your Skills

Become a School Governor

Staff and Alumni interested in becoming School Governors can register with our charity partner Governors for Schools here. [1] Someone from the charity will be in touch about next steps with being matched with a school. [1] 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. 

Training and Support

New School Governors can benefit from a package of training and support from the start of their roles. Through our charity partners, all staff and alumni have access to a suite of e-learning modules, monthly webinars and 6 months access to The Keys up to date intelligence, tools and resources.

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, here


Download Governors For Schools Professional development through school governance report. (PDF)

Download Governors For Schools Guide to Academy Trust Governance. (PDF)

Upcoming Events and Webinars

Behaviour and attitudes in the new Ofsted framework (with Better Governor) Webinar
27 February 2020, 8:00am – 9:00am
Sign up here

Reputation management (with Irwin Mitchell) Webinar
10 March 2020, 12:30pm – 1:30pm
Sign up here

Personal Development in the new Ofsted framework (with Better Governor) Webinar
26 March 2020, 8:00am – 9:00am
Sign up here

Strategic HR (with Irwin Mitchell) Webinar
9 June 2020, 12:30pm – 1:30pm
Sign up here

Past Events and Webinars

All webinars are available to watch back on the following website shortly after they have taken place:

Safer recruitment (with Better Governor) Webinar
30 January 2020, 8:00am – 9:00am


Positive changes for managing ill-health in schools (with Irwin Mitchell) Webinar
14 January 2020, 12:30pm – 1:30pm


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.


Headteacher Recruitment – Free Webinar

Thursday 27 June @ 8am-9am

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.


Self-Evaluation of Governance – Free Webinar

Thursday 18 July @ 8am-9am

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.

Book a place for the event here:

Advertise Your School Governor Vacancy

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 in the Curriculum

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.

In its Seven Principles to Tackle the Climate Crisis,  the University committed to further extend the Leeds Sustainable Discovery Theme programme to integrate sustainability into our teaching provision at all levels, and give opportunities to students to take part in activities to promote sustainability.

Alongside formal learning, we are 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.

International Sustainable Campus Network Award

Leeds has won an award for embedding a collaborative approach to sustainability across all aspects of the University curriculum. Find out more about the award at





Goodbye from this year’s Student Architects – Emma

I have been lucky enough to be one of the University’s Sustainability Architects this year. This opportunity has allowed me to gain a greater insight into the sustainability initiatives at the University, supporting projects with like-minded people, all from different backgrounds but with the same passion and desire to find sustainable solutions to the many challenges we face.

This experience has allowed me to further my knowledge within sustainability and develop valuable professional skills and experience. I found working as a close team and developing ideas together very successful. Team meetings were one of my favorite elements of the role which were always engaging and motivating (a refreshing break from studying!). One of the key things I learnt was that sustainability is a massive challenge within Universities, but I was overwhelmed to see and be involved in the efforts and the progress here at the University of Leeds.

One of my core projects throughout the year, was promoting and encouraging sustainable dissertations to students. This is an area in which I feel there is great scope within the University, and I am excited to see this develop further with some of the ideas we have been working on. One of the suggestions is to create a sustainable dissertation archive on our website. The archive would have a bank of past student’s sustainable dissertations which others could use to gain inspiration and ideas, and contacts for any further support.

The Student Conference on Sustainable Futures is also something I would promote to anyone looking for dissertation inspiration. Sustainable dissertations are something I have become very interested in over the past two years. I believe it is a great opportunity to invest a long period of time into exploring something that can significantly benefit society in some form. I chose to produce a sustainability themed dissertation based on a personal interest and a desire to contribute to sustainability regarding the future of textiles. My research has benefited me as an individual and significantly changed my process as a designer which has opened up a realm of new opportunities for me. By seeking sustainable alternatives, I have found more advanced solutions and more environmentally friendly ways of working. My passion is finding sustainable alternatives to pigments or dyes in coloring textiles, through bio-mimicry (the imitation of nature). I plan to keep researching within this area with the desire of making this a more commercial coloration process. One of the best things I have learnt and been inspired by during my role and my research is that you don’t have to study a directly sustainable degree, everyone can be sustainable and find more sustainable (and more exciting) ways of working within their discipline.

My role as an architect and working with the sustainability team really helped me develop my ideas and gain confidence in presenting my research. I had the opportunity to present my research at the Sustainable Futures Conference which was extremely successful and really built my confidence with public speaking. The conference is a great networking opportunity which I encourage everyone to get involved with.

I am privileged to have been a part of the team for the past year and have thoroughly enjoyed my experience. The sustainability service has an exciting future ahead and I believe it is one of the most valuable services within the University. Many thanks to everyone in the team who has encouraged, supported and inspired my sustainable journey. The experience has been a pivotal step in preparation for my career as a designer, and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity.

To end on the most valuable thing I have learnt throughout the year; sustainability brings benefit not sacrifice.

– Emma