Let Nature Sing Event

On the 17th of October, together with the Sustainability Team our student ambassadors from the Living Lab have put on a Leeds Campus Bird Survey, in celebration of the RSPB Let Nature Sing takeover.

The Let Nature Sing takeover is part of the RSPB nature recovery campaign, aiming raise awareness on the challenges faced by bird populations today. Over 5,000 locations across the UK have taken place in Let Nature Sing takeover, playing bird song in offices, parks and even public transport. Here at Leeds, our team decided to take it further and we encouraged people to join us for a walk around St. George’s Field, identify birds and listen to bird song.


Photo by Karolina Zarzyczny

We had a fantastic turn out with multiple students offering to volunteer on the day to help guide the bird walks. The best thing about our event was that it was open to everyone! Our participants ranged from skilled birders to nature lovers which haven’t had the chance to hold a pair of binoculars before. It was a great opportunity to get out of the office, enjoy the fresh air and gain some bird identification skills. Over the two walks, we have identified 18 different bird species both from visual surveys and by bird song (credit to one of our skilled participants!). The data collected will contribute to the ongoing biodiversity surveys around the campus and will help inform future Biodiversity Action Plans.

If you would like to find out more about how you can get involved in monitoring our campus biodiversity, email: sustainability@leeds.ac.uk

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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 http://sustainability.leeds.ac.uk/the-living-lab/ and return by email to plasticfree@leeds.ac.uk 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 http://sustainability.leeds.ac.uk/the-living-lab/ and return by email to plasticfree@leeds.ac.uk before midnight on Friday 1st February 2019.

All enquiries should be directed to plasticfree@leeds.ac.uk

 

 

Living Lab

WHAT IS THE LIVING LAB

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.

Read about our first year of activities Leeds Living Lab:_One year on’

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Biodiversity

As one of the largest landowners in Leeds, the University has a responsibility to take biodiversity seriously.  With a diverse combination of urban areas, residential sites, woodland and sports grounds, we maintain a variety of habitats to meet user needs across the city.  In 2011, with the introduction of our first Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP), we have worked with a number of partners both internally and externally to ensure that we continue to have a net positive effect on the biodiversity of our estate.

Our Approach

It is becoming more important that all public bodies, including universities, plan for and consider biodiversity on their grounds. In its ‘Sustainable Development in Higher Education’ strategy the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) committed to promote sustainable estates management, including biodiversity. At the same time the Learning and Skills Council’s (LSC) strategy ‘From Here to Sustainability’ also identifies biodiversity as a key part of their principles and actions. The Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC) identify nine benefits for universities that have an active biodiversity agenda:

  • Improved reputation and green image
  • Potential to develop partnerships between staff and students
  • Opportunities for education and curriculum greening
  • Campus contribution to healthy living and wellbeing
  • Enhanced volunteering opportunities for students

In 2016 we launched our new ‘Biodiversity Standard‘ which builds on the previous plan and provides an overarching strategy for how we manage all of our properties as well as strengthening our position in the city and across the sector as exemplars of urban biodiversity practices.  We launched a revised version of our campus Biodiversity Action Plan for the city campus in May 2017.  This is largely an operational progress document, which is monitored through the Biodiversity Group.  The campus plan can be viewed here.