Residential Services manages the residential accommodation portfolio for The University of Leeds, with circa 9,100 bed-spaces in both University and private partner sites. Residential Services also operates according to the University’s Sustainability Strategy, with the following key themes:
- Embedding sustainability through collaboration
- Building knowledge and capacity
- Being a positive partner in society; and
- Making the most of resources
Residential Services started to work on its Blueprint Action Plan in 2018/19, and this annual sustainability report (Blueprint Action) covers the progress made during the second year, September 2019 – August 2020.
Embedding sustainability through collaboration
Residential Services implemented its Blueprint Action Plan during 2018/19 and was awarded a Blueprint Explorer Award in June 2019. Due to the work completed in 2019/20, Residential Services has now been awarded a Blueprint Change Maker Award (July 2020). During this period, Residential Services has worked successfully in collaboration with:
- Both Yorkshire Integrated Catchment Solutions Programme (iCASP) and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust on the Leeds Flood Alleviation Project in the Upper Aire Valley – iCASP won the University’s Outreach Award, and Residential Services was Highly Commended for the work of its student and staff volunteers for the Internationalisation Award, at the University Sustainability Awards 2020.
- The Campus Pollinator Project around the campus – Winner of the University’s Collaboration Award at the University Sustainability Awards 2020.
- A PhD student looking at minimising food waste at Devonshire Hall – Highly Commended in the Communication Award at the University Sustainability Awards 2020.
- Two Student Sustainability Architects, one working on biodiversity action plans, and the other on circular resource use initiatives.Further collaborative work has also taken place with student residents, staff, Estates Services (Grounds & Gardens), FD Marketing & Communications, Sustainability Services, plus a number of supply chain partners and third sector charities. Residential Services has delivered on 13 Blueprint action out of 15 (87%), and 15 Blueprint Plus actions out of 21 (71%).
Staff Sustainability Student Architect
Mike Leonard is the Staff Sustainability Architect for Residential Services (Blueprint Action), and is responsible for all sustainability aspects across the service, including actions required within the Blueprint Action Plan.
Student Sustainability Architects
Residential Services appointed two Student Sustainability Architects (Blueprint Action) during 2019/20:
- Ailish Byrne set up a food donation scheme for Holbeck Elderly Aid across Residences; organised a student sustainability survey to gather feedback on circular resource use; planned the collection of several plastic items that would benefit the Yorkshire Brain Tumour Charity; and organised a number of communication events on social media, including during the first Covid emergency period.
- Karolina Zarzyczny completed surveys of six residential sites and generated biodiversity action plans and site maps for Central Village, Montague Burton Residences, North Hill Court, North Hill Road properties, St Marks Residences, and Sentinel Towers. Karolina was also a member of the Campus Pollinator Group, working in areas around residences on campus.
Residential Services has a total of eight conference-facing residential sites that are accredited under the hospitality industry’s Green Tourism accreditation scheme for sustainability. Devonshire Hall, Ellerslie Global and Lyddon Hall successfully retained their Green Tourism Gold Award in December 2019. Dobree House, Henry Price Residences, Storm Jameson Court, and Whetton House retained their Green Tourism Gold in August 2020. (Central Village is to be re-assessed next year in May 2021). Andrea Nicholas, Chief Executive of Green Tourism also confirmed that they consider The University of Leeds to be a leading Green Tourism ambassador, in sharing good practice and leading the way in sustainability management.
Building knowledge and capacity
The Living it Green Guide
The Living it Green Guide is an in-house guide on how to live more sustainably in University accommodation. In previous years, 10,500 copies have been printed for students, staff, contractors, and conference delegates. In 2019/20, the Living it Green Guide was accessed via the Accommodation Services web-site, and only 400 copies were printed for display in site office/reception areas.
Communications with students
In addition to normal communications throughout the year from the Residences Life Team, Ailish Byrne organised the following:
- A student sustainability survey which focussed on circular resource use, and particularly single-use plastics; fast fashion; recycling; and future events. Feedback highlighted the students’ priorities for addressing single-use plastics; improved recycling; and recycling food waste in that order. 48% of the respondents confirmed that they did not know about the University’s single-use plastics pledge. They felt that more information and facilities were required on recycling, particularly in private partner sites. The preferred methods of receiving information was by posters; e-mail; Residences Life Facebook in that order; with other forms of social media thereafter.
- A number of communication events were also disseminated, covering various topics, e.g. a Sustainable Christmas Checklist; Five single-use plastic swaps; Making the most of your left-over food waste.
Being a positive partner in society
World Mental Health Day
Sixteen student and staff volunteers worked with staff from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, at Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve on 10th October 2019, World Mental Health Day. The day’s activities sought to improve individuals’ morale and mental health through team building activities; develop communication skills; give something back to the local community; work with like-minded businesses, and enhance the local environment and wildlife in the area. The group worked on clearing some of the hay meadows on the reserve so that the local wildflower species can thrive in the absence of competition from invasive grass and scrub.
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Four further events or Wild Work Days (Blueprint Action) were undertaken by student and staff volunteers during the year, generating a total of 96 volunteer days of work for YWT (576 hours). The work took place on sites in the River Aire catchment, at Airton, Great Preston, Ledston Luck (National Student Volunteering Week, Feb 2020), and near Keighley. Students took part from twenty-one different countries, including Colombia, Czech Republic, Italy, Kyrgyzstan, Malawi, Pakistan, Palestine, and the Philippines. The participation and impact of the work was highlighted with a Highly Commended Award in the Internationalisation category, at The Sustainability Awards in July 2020. In addition, Yorkshire Integrated Catchment Solutions Programme (iCASP) also won the Outreach category, at the same awards, for their partnership work across the region that included the work on the River Aire.
British Heart Foundation
British Heart Foundation collection banks are located all year round at all University-owned residential sites, and students are asked to donate any unwanted items for subsequent reuse (Blueprint Plus Action). During the period Oct 2019 – Sep 2020, 3,116 bags of items were collected, amounting to 24.9 tonnes. The items went on sale in local BHF retail outlets in Leeds, and raised an estimated income of £ 43,624 for coronary heart research, making a total of £ 244,132 raised in the last four year.
Horsforth Food Hub
Surplus non-perishable food items were collected from a number of University-owned residential sites during the first Covid-19 lockdown and donated to the Horsforth Food Hub for redistribution to local families in need (Blueprint Action). Over 565 kilogrammes of food was subsequently collected and then delivered by Rik Jones, Head Chef at Devonshire Hall.
Academic Venue Awards
MEETinLEEDS won the 2019 Best Accessibility Award for the third year in a row, at the Academic Venues Conference held in London. The award recognised the outstanding efforts in ensuring that its conference, catering, residential and academic venues are inclusive and accessible to all.
Making the most of resources
Carbon Management Plan
A new common room was built at Montague Burton in 2019/20, originally based on Passivhaus standards for insulation, ventilation, and air-tightness. Despite limitations due to budget constraints, the residents at Montague Burton now have a light and airy communal space, in which to study, exercise and relax in a sustainable environment. An energy performance certificate has been produced which rates the building at the high end of Band B, with recommendations for where improvements can be made. In addition to the work at Montague Burton, several new boilers have been installed at Lyddon Hall and 3 Kingston Terrace. A Net Zero Carbon Plan is due out this next year and will identify works required across the campus, including all residential sites to meet the University’s net-zero carbon target by 2030.
A new native species hedge was planted on Mount Preston Street near Charles Morris Hall, comprising blackthorn, hawthorn, hazel and holly plants. In addition, more shrubs and spring-flowering bulbs have been added to the long linear bed of the Sensory Garden on the site. Work has been progressed on our off-campus sites, where Karolina Zarzyczny delivered six biodiversity action plans and site maps, for use in planning future improvements to biodiversity on University-owned residential sites (Blueprint Action). Residential Services has also worked in collaboration with the Campus Pollinator Group, which identified pollinator hotspots on campus, which included St George’s Field (Henry Price Residences), and the Charles Morris Hall/Lyddon Hall area. This project won the award in the Collaboration category, at The Sustainability Awards in July 2020.
Bishops Beds continued to replace old beds and mattresses with new, changing 429 mattresses and beds at Christmas 2019. In addition, Over2hills provide a reactive recovery service for old mattresses, and furniture (Blueprint Plus Action), to offer to third sector charities for either Re-use, Restoration, or Recycling of component materials. 394 individual items of furniture have been delivered to Over2hills during 2019/20, including mattresses, bed bases, sofas, tables, chairs, wardrobes, and bedside cabinets. In addition, Residential Services have refurbished a number of sofas and chairs, and these items have now been reintroduced for use in several residences.
Forbes Professional continue to supply a number of leased washing machines (Blueprint Plus Action) at Storm Jameson Court and St Marks Residences.
Single-Use Plastics Pledge
In addition to the work undertaken at Devonshire Hall last year (Blueprint Action), both Churchill and Crystal Cleaning Services have subsequently introduced ‘Zero Waste’ cleaning products in nine of our eleven residences (85% of bed-spaces), thereby helping to reduce the use of plastic containers on sites. The cleaning chemicals come in starch-wrapped pellets, in compostable cardboard boxes of up to 150 pellets. The pellets dissolve on contact with water, producing the same volume of cleaning fluid previously provided by three x 5-litre plastic containers. In addition to removing these plastic containers from the waste stream, the boxes are lighter and save on storage space, and also have a lower carbon emissions content for transportation.
Clean Air Pledge
Residential Services has a total of 5 vehicles, with 2 electric (40%). Emphasis is placed on using the electrical vehicles where and whenever possible (Blueprint Action), and this resulted in the electric vehicles responsible for covering 58% of the mileage during 2019/20.
Nicholas Davison, a PhD student from Chemical and Process Engineering, worked with catering staff at Devonshire Hall, to optimise food waste management on-site (Blueprint Plus Action), thereby reducing food waste generated through communication and education of the residents. Various measures were instigated, and surveys conducted pre & post-intervention. Feedback on awareness highlighted a 30% improvement, primarily through the use of table cards. Further data also indicated a reduction in food waste generated by 10 – 15%. Comparisons made with another case study carried out in Mumbai University also highlighted the benefit of portion control undertaken at Devonshire Hall, which was absent in India. The work of both Nick and the staff at Devonshire Hall was highlighted with a Highly Commended in the Communication Award, for outstanding contribution to sustainability 2020.
N.B. Details of the Blueprint Action Plan for Residential Services can be found in the Living it Green Guide: https://accommodation.leeds.ac.uk/livingitgreen