News stories from across the Facilities Directorate at the University of Leeds.

The Edge Testing centre

Setting up Asymptomatic Testing Centres on Campus

In the last few weeks, colleagues from across the University along with our FD services have yet again come together with impressive speed in response to establishing the asymptomatic testing centres on campus.

The collaboration between the FD, Business Change, IT, HR, Health and Safety, Sustainability, Student Education Services and the University Communications team has been phenomenal, and huge thanks go to everyone involved. This type of testing will form a strategy to break the transmission of the Covid virus. Although it places a lot of pressure on our facilities and staff, we as a University community continue to demonstrate the importance of keeping our students and staff safe whilst also making a large contribution to beat the virus regionally and nationally.

Teams from across the FD work together

In establishing the two testing sites, colleagues in Estates Operations including the DLO and the Handy Gang, Development, Health and Safety, PCB, Procurement, Estates Planning and the Project Management Office, ensured the safe set up of sites. In this time, plans were created to show all areas of the site including reception desks, testing booths, showers and changing facilities for staff. Various items of equipment including booths, special flooring, furniture, hand sanitisers and signage were procured and installed to create a Covid safe environment. Whilst colleagues from Residential Service played a key role in initially devising a testing booking system with the Project Management Office.

In order to fully support the testing sites, many SPA staff were deployed into one of the following critical delivery roles; operational managers, registration assistants and/or test result recorders. All staff deployed into these roles received full training and full PPE. Cleaning Services were involved in supporting the test centre facilities in providing clinical-level cleaning and sanitising services over a 14-hour day. This placed the team in a demanding environment requiring a lot of training and planning of logistics and rotas. However, the Cleaners, Cleaning Supervisors, Environmental Team and Senior Supervisors all pulled together in a very tight time frame to make this happen!

The Sustainability team worked closely with the Central Communications team in the lead up to the student travel window. This work was to reassure local residents of the measures put in place to allow students to visit the asymptomatic testing centres safely, and travel during the travel window. The Conference team supported the operation of a call centre to support the students who were booking an asymptomatic test and responding to any questions. Throughout the testing period, the Mailroom provided a critical service delivering test kits and other materials between the testing sites. Colleagues from Health and Safety and Estates Operations Maintenance team were also on call to manage any matters that arose.

What a fantastic team effort!!

Christmas trees on campus

Keeping campus running over the holiday period

Each year, teams in the FD play a critical role in keeping campus operational during the Christmas period. Despite the disruptions brought about by the pandemic, Christmas operations on campus will continue to run like those in previous years.
Our Estates Operations staff will ensure campus buildings are maintained, heating will be switched off and all buildings will be flushed regularly to ensure water hygiene safety. Colleagues will also be on call to handle any emergencies during this period. The Security Services team will be present and on patrol around campus and accommodation 24/7 to support those students remaining in Leeds. If at any time you need to contact Security, all the key details you need can be found here.

Throughout the Christmas break Great Food at Leeds will continue to maintain a service to students in University-managed accommodation and to those students who are moving into their accommodation ahead of starting University in the second semester, working in partnership with the International Office. Catering teams will also continue to deliver isolation boxes to any student that might need it and will remain the first port of call for emergency food boxes.

For much of the break it will be business as usual for our residential sites, as staff continue to look after students staying in their accommodation. As ever, across our residences periodic cleans are being organised throughout communal areas such as flat kitchens. This is more important than ever this year as the team strive to give students an environment which is safe, pleasant and clean. There has been plenty of preparation by site staff to make sure that everything is ready for those students arriving over the break ahead of their courses starting in January. Residence staff have liaised with the International Student Office to ensure that all their rooms will be ready for them when they arrive, and to ensure that those who have to self-isolate on arrival in the UK will be able to receive food deliveries to make this period as easy as possible for them. The Residence Life team have been planning a series of events, both in person and virtual, including the Treat Yo’ Elf  Christmas stockings for residents who will be here after the end of term, and a series of virtual mixers to help residents stay in touch.

The Sustainability team have collated their favourite walks, climbs and cycling routes. These are all easy to follow with advice for students to encourage them to get outdoors and enjoy exploring the city and surrounding areas safely. If you’d like to try any of the routes yourself then take a look at the sustainability website. 

Our facilities at the Edge and the Refectory will remain open. The Edge will re-open from the 14 December on restricted opening hours and will offer members a full time table of activities including swim sessions, climbing sessions, online fitness classes and walks. The 12 days of Winter Wellbeing Christmas Advent calendar has also been launched. The calendar offers some great daily ideas to provide a boost to physical and mental health.The Refectory will also remain open on 21,22,23rd 10am-2pm to ensure fresh hot food is available to students still on campus, as well as this, Caffe Nero at Laidlaw will also be open over the break apart from 25th,26th dec and 1st January.

All of our services have joined up with the Christmas in Leeds programme – a resource for all students and postgraduate researchers and their partners and families. Wherever you are you can get involved in an eclectic mix of virtual and offline events hosted over several channels.

Embedding sustainability across Residential Services

Residential Services has been working hard over the last 18 months to embed sustainability across the University’s portfolio of nearly 9,000 beds. This has been done across four key themes:

  • Embedding sustainability through collaboration
  • Building knowledge and capacity
  • Being a positive partner in society; and
  • Making the most of resources

Within each of these themes Residential Services has made a lot of progress across a wide variety of projects and initiatives.


  • Blueprint: Residential Services implemented its Blueprint Action Plan during 2018/19, and was awarded with a Blueprint Explorer Award, at the University Sustainability Awards in June 2019. During this period, Residential Services has worked in collaboration with its students, 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 8 Blueprint actions out of 15 (53%); and 10 Blueprint Plus actions out of 21 (48%).
  • Staff Sustainability Student Architect: Mike Leonard is the Staff Sustainability Architect for Residential Services 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 during 2018/19:
    • Chloe Badge, who was tasked with surveying eight residential sites, and generated a biodiversity action plan for Devonshire Hall, and Lupton Residences; and
    • Nicola Wood, who set up a student food waste collection scheme at Devonshire Hall; two pop-up shops with the British Heart Foundation; and assisted FD Marketing & Communications by encouraging students when moving out; and to bring less, as part of the Move In campaign in September.
  • Green Tourism: Residential Services has a total of ten conference-facing sites that are accredited under the hospitality industry’s Green Tourism accreditation scheme for sustainability. Central Village was assessed for its performance as a sustainable accommodation provider in May 2019. In keeping with the other sites, Central Village achieved a Green Tourism Gold Award, and a number of examples of ‘best practice’ were identified, establishing it as “. . . an example for other universities and accommodation providers to follow.” (Green Tourism Report).

Residential Services accepting the Green Tourism Award


  • The Living it Green Guide: The Living it Green Guide is an in-house guide on how to live more sustainably in University accommodation. The Guide was distributed to over 4,900 students, 100 staff, and various contractors working on the residential portfolio during 2018/19.
  • Devonshire Hall Chickens: Students at Devonshire Hall have the opportunity to look after some ex-battery hens, during their time on site. The hens are collected from the British Hen Welfare Trust, and settle in to their new academic life, with students recruited and trained to look after their welfare. The condition of the hens improves significantly over the time, and the volunteers also get the additional benefit of any freshly laid eggs.

Rescue chickens at Devonshire Hall

  • Moving In & Moving Out Campaigns: Both the Moving In & Moving Out campaigns were established with FD Communications, to influence what students bring to University; what they purchase during their tenancy; and how they can minimise waste in their first year in University Residences:
    • During the move in period, Residence Life Facebook pages provided videos that reached 1229 ‘people’, backed up with posters displayed in high footfall areas, for the ‘Enough with all that stuff’ campaign.
    • The move out campaign at year end used e-mail, Residence Life Facebook, Twitter, and University Instagram channels of communication, with the latter receiving the highest levels of engagement. During the week in which Nicola Wood ‘took over’ the University Instagram account as Student Sustainability Architect, her posts reached 7,485 people.


  • National Inclusion Week: The Sensory Garden at Charles Morris Hall was officially opened in September 2018, as part of the series of events held on campus for National Inclusion Week. The Garden provides raised beds for wheelchair access and engagement; braille and large font guides for the blind and visually impaired; and is designed to provide interest to visitors registered on the autism spectrum. Positive feedback has been received from Visit England, Green Tourism, and Yorkshire in Bloom, as well as students, staff and visitors.

Stakeholders getting a tour of the Sensory Garden

  • Yorkshire Wildlife Trust: Six Wild Work Days were undertaken by student and staff volunteers during the year, generating 97 volunteer days of work for YWT (582 hours). The work took place on sites along both the upper, middle, and lower sections of the River Aire catchment, with students taking part from nineteen different countries. The involvement of the student volunteers in the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme, was highlighted by a Leeds City Council press release in August. In addition, the activities provide students and staff with an opportunity to work in the outdoors away from the University, and can help to reduce stress and anxiety, thereby improving the health, well-being, and self-esteem of those involved.

Volunteers working with Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

  • 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. During the period Oct 2018 – Sep 2019, 5,075 bags of items were collected, amounting to 40.6 tonnes. The items went on sale in local BHF retail outlets in Leeds, and raised an estimated income of £ 71,050 for coronary heart research.


  • Carbon Management Plan: A number of new boilers were installed at Devonshire, Ellerslie, and on Cromer Terrace, together with double and secondary glazing at Devonshire and Lyddon Terrace. The carbon reduction target for The University of Leeds is currently 35% by 2020/21. By the end of 2018/19, energy consumption in University managed residences had been reduced by 48%, providing a carbon reduction figure of 59% on its original 2005/06 benchmark. A new carbon neutral/zero plan is due to be disseminated in March 2020, and Residential Services will be working to support and contribute to its delivery.
  • Biodiversity: Residential Services co-funded a new planting scheme for the area between Leeds University Union, and The School of Earth and Environment, bordered by Charles Morris Hall and Lyddon Hall. The project enhanced existing trees and lawns, with the addition of shrubs, grasses, ferns, and herbaceous planting, providing structure, colour, scent, texture, and movement. The new plants provide both cover and food sources for invertebrates and wildlife in the area. The scheme also provides students, staff and visitors with a space that has year-round interest which benefits mental health and well-being. Further work was also carried out on Back Cromer Terrace, with the planting of a shrubs, climbing plants, spring bulbs, and a British native species hedge, comprising blackthorn, hawthorn, hazel and holly.
  • Bishops Beds: A circular resource scheme was implemented, with the planned delivery of 248 new bed bases and 810 mattresses to a number of residences including Sentinel Towers, Henry Price, and Lupton in the summer. The mattresses have been designed specifically for a longer life cycle, and with an 80% recycled content. The old mattresses @ 23.6 kgs each, and bed bases @ 21.5 kgs each were also recovered on the return trip, for recycling of the component materials for subsequent re-use. The combined weight of mattresses and bed bases recovered by Bishops Beds amounted to 24.4 tonnes during the year.
  • Over2hills: Over2hills provide a reactive recovery service for old mattresses, and furniture, to offer to third sector charities for either Re-use, Restoration, or Recycling of component materials. At least 156 individual items have been recovered this way, and include mattresses, bed bases, fridge/freezers, tables and chairs.
  • Buglife Urban Buzz Project: Student and staff volunteers helped to plant 1,000 spring bulbs and 500 plug plants in the area between Charles Morris Hall and Lyddon Hall, plus on Back Cromer Terrace during the year. This location has now been identified as a pollinator hotspot on the national Buglife web-site, and is part of the ongoing Campus Pollinator Project.

Volunteers planting bulbs near Charles Morris

  • Leasing Equipment: Forbes Professional were appointed to supply a number of leased washing machines at Storm Jameson Court during 2018/19, as opposed to direct purchase of the same equipment.
  • Sustainable Purchasing: Churchill Cleaning Services installed a Purex chemical-free cleaning system at Charles Morris Hall in 2018, which won the Purchasing Award at the University’s annual Sustainability Awards in June 2019.
  • Single-Use Plastics Pledge: Devonshire Hall reduced their single-use plastics, with the removal of over 86,000 plastic items, including plastic sauce sachets, water bottles, and plastic cups. This work has been highlighted as one of the key achievements so far in the University’s #2023 PlasticFree Pledge.
  • 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, and this resulted in the electric vehicles responsible for covering 53% of the mileage during 2018/19.


Latest view of NEXUS

We’re now a year into the development of Nexus and we’re excited to share a live feed of the development, which can be accessed 24/7 on the Campus Developments site.

Nexus will be a high profile gateway to research and innovation at the University and UK-leading environment for collaboration and partnership and now you can watch the 6,684m² giant being constructed in real time.


The story so far…

Take a look at the time-lapse below to see how Nexus has progressed over the past six months.


Find out more about the project and view the live feed on our Campus Developments site here:


Brownlee Centre

Brownlee Centre complete

The Facilities Directorate has completed and launched the new Brownlee Centre and Cycle Circuit this week after a ten-month, and £5m investment, at the University’s Bodington Playing Fields.

The Brownlee Centre, chosen in honour of Olympic heroes Alistair and Jonny, sits alongside a new 1 mile (1.6km) cycle circuit – one of the longest in the country – at the University’s Bodington Playing Fields in north Leeds.

The development has been managed by Estate Services and has been a unique opportunity and project to deliver.

It’s been incredibly exciting working on this project and on behalf of Estates Services we are delighted that this new facility really strengthens the sports facility provision at Leeds.” 


The circuit has a full programme of activity including “pay and pedal”, HSBC UK Breeze Rides for women and girls and special training sessions for elite athletes, University and local clubs. Bikes for children and adults are available to hire, along with hand cycles, trikes and tandems for use by riders with disabilities.

It rightly puts the University of Leeds at the forefront of providing one of the best sport and physical activity environments in the UK



You can find out more about the development of the project on the Campus Development website, or visit the Sport and Physical Activity site to find out more about the new facility at Bodington Playing Fields.

Edward boyle

Top five for experience

The University of Leeds has moved into the top five in this year’s Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey, from sixth position last year, to fourth this year.

Every year, the Times Higher Education survey asks students across the UK to give their views about their university on a range of issues, from the quality of teaching and how well-structured the courses are, through to accommodation and support and welfare.

Our facilities, activities and societies and services such as security on campus, student welfare and support all feature particularly strongly. In the survey the students voted Leeds third for its facilities, including quality, convenience, library/opening hours, shop and bar amenities, and sports facilities.

We offer exceptional campus facilities too!

With first-rate accommodation, libraries and teaching facilities, the University is investing a further £520m to further develop the campus to support world-leading research and teaching.

This spring sees the completion of some of the most recent investments, including the £5m Brownlee Centre and cycle track and the £24.7m refurbishment of the Edward Boyle Library.

Already one of the best student unions in the UK, Leeds University Union was the first union to be awarded ‘excellent’ status in NUS quality accreditation and will provide even better facilities and opportunities for students following the completion of a £17 million upgrade in 2017.

The Union continues to receive one of the highest levels of satisfaction amongst students.

For more details visit National Student Survey results

NEXUS construction

NEXUS – a future view


Watch an overview video of the construction of NEXUS.  You can find out more about Nexus by visiting the NEXUS project page on the Campus Developments website.

Find out more about NEXUS.

Projects Map


Brownlee Centre

Tribute to Brownlees

A new £5m University of Leeds sports facility is to be named after its most successful alumni athletes, Olympic heroes Alistair and Jonny Brownlee.

The Brownlee Centre sits alongside a new 1 mile (1.6km) cycle circuit – one of the longest in the country –  at the University’s Bodington playing fields in north Leeds.

The unique centre, which opens in April, is the UK’s first purpose-built triathlon training base and will provide the first permanent home for the world-beating Leeds Triathlon Centre.

Combining a strength and conditioning training suite, physiotherapy, medical and other support services with one of the longest cycle circuits in the country, this new world-class development will enhance facilities for both cycling and triathlon in the region.

Partnership funding from Sport England, UK Sport, British Cycling and British Triathlon is contributing £1million to the project, with the remaining funding provided by the University.

“This is a real honour,” said Alistair Brownlee, “Having the UK’s first purpose-built triathlon centre in Leeds will ensure that the city continues to be a hub for triathlon. It brings together the facilities top athletes need in one place to create a world class training environment. It is a real boost for both participation and elite sport in the area and will hopefully help the next generation of Leeds athletes on their journey to Olympic success”

Alistair studied Sports Science and Physiology at Leeds and won gold in the triathlon competition at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

His brother Jonny, who took silver in August, added: “We can’t wait to bring our bikes up here and try it. The track is a great addition to Yorkshire’s cycling facilities and will benefit cyclists and other sportsmen and women of all abilities.
“We’re both really pleased to continue our relationship with the University and I hope that what we’ve achieved can inspire everyone who uses the facilities to try their hardest, whether it’s in competitive sport or in building confidence on two wheels.”

brownlee brothers on tarmac machine

Vice-Chancellor Sir Alan Langlands, said: “The University is extremely proud of Alistair and Jonny’s achievements and it is fitting that this unique world-class facility, which will inspire thousands of people to be more active, is to be named after two of our most successful sportsmen.
“Our graduates have dominated top level triathlon and cycling at various events, an achievement which everyone in Leeds can be proud of. Opening The Brownlee Centre and new cycle circuit reinforces our vision of becoming the number one provider of higher education sport and physical activity experience in the UK.”

At last year’s Rio 2016 Olympic Games, all three of the men’s triathlon team were Leeds alumni, with Gordon Benson joining the medal-winning Brownlee brothers. The University is one of the UK’s leading sports institutions, with the Brownlees following in the footsteps of a number of Olympic champions.

Suzanne Glavin, Head of Sport and Physical Activity at the University, said: “We’re really pleased to acknowledge the fantastic sporting success of the Brownlees in such a practical, permanent way.
“We are so proud of Alistair and Jonny and of their continuing relationship with the University – from regular training at our facilities, to the inspiration they provide students, staff and members of the public alike with their achievements.
“We are also pleased to have played a part in their success by providing excellent training facilities and by tailoring their degrees to allow time to prepare and compete.
“The facility they are putting their name to represents a success story for cycling and triathlon in Leeds and beyond. It will ensure athletes of all abilities have some of the best facilities in the UK available close to home.”

The 6 metre-wide circuit will provide a traffic-free environment for cyclists of all ages and abilities – including University students, staff and the wider community – for recreation, coaching and competition.

Jonny Clay, British Cycling’s Director of Cycling, said: “Leeds – and the wider West Yorkshire region – has produced countless successful elite sportspeople over the years, and one of British Cycling’s key aims has always been to ensure that elite success translates into mass participation, and that those inspired by Britain’s finest cyclists have high quality facilities at which to develop their own skills and confidence on a bike.

This new cycle circuit will deliver exactly that for the people of Leeds, and we look forward to seeing locals, regardless of age, ability or previous level of experience on a bike, take advantage of the facility once it is open.”

Four of the six Team GB Rio games triathlon competitors – including the Brownlees’ fellow University of Leeds alumnus Gordon Benson – will be based at the new facilities.
Bodington Playing Fields are no stranger to elite athletes, having hosted numerous national standard cross country competitions. Its running routes are also used weekly by Leeds Triathlon Centre’s elite training squad, which includes the Brownlees. The site will also continue to be used for grass sports including football and rugby. The next phase of development will see three additional grass pitches, with work scheduled for completion in September 2017.
The University has invested over £25m in new sports facilities over the past 10 years and these improvements complement nearby Sports Park Weetwood, the University’s flagship 100-acre facility used by students and members of the community for hockey, football, rugby, cricket, lacrosse, American football and more.


Find ouit more about the development on our campus developments website. 

If you have any questions about this story please contact Tilly Hall:, 0113 343 7525.

Lecture theatre

Lecture theatre complete

Doors will open for teaching today to the new look Roger Stevens Lecture Theatre 8. The Lecture theatre has been transformed over the last few months to create a sector leading and innovative teaching environment.

The pilot refurbishment programme encompassed three, tiered lecture theatres in key locations across campus, upgrading teaching space to a new set of standards which seeks to improve collaborative and technologically enabled experiences for staff and students alike.

This exciting redevelopment of space will allow group discussion alongside the use of installed technology, bringing about group work, interaction, communication and recording.

Read more about reimaging traditional tiered lecture theatres in this blog by Neil MorrisDirector of Digital Learning, University of Leeds.