Improving air quality in Leeds

Vice-Chancellor, Sir Alan Langlands has signed the Clean Air Leeds pledge demonstrating the University’s commitment to improving air quality in the city.

Sustainability Project Officer, Claire Booth and Vice-Chancellor, Sir Alan Langlands

Sir Alan Langlands signing Clean Air pledge with Claire Booth February 2018

The University is one of a handful of local organisations to sign the pledge as part of Leeds City Council’s campaign to raise awareness of air quality issues and to encourage behaviour change at both organisational and individual levels.

A research project which uses the University as a ‘living lab’ by measuring and mapping air quality across our campus has recently been launched. This collaborative research between the Sustainability Service, School of Earth & Environment, the Institute for Transport Studies and Estates Services will support the University in identifying where and how opportunities for air quality improvement exist and can be prioritised. Learnings and outcomes will be shared with the city so that the benefits can be maximised.

As part of the project, we will also be running experiments to research the pollution that our staff and students are exposed to whilst commuting to the University. Volunteers will wear air quality monitors whilst commuting along a number of different routes using different modes of transport. This way, we can support our staff and students to find the healthiest ways to travel whilst protecting the environment.

As Louise Ellis, Director for Sustainability Services notes; “Improving air quality is vital for the city and something we all have a role in achieving; and something we are committed to doing. As part of our wider commitment to having a positive impact on society, the University will be changing both our operations and infrastructure, supporting our staff, students and visitors to travel more sustainably and carrying out research which will inform our activities as a city. I am particularly excited about the launch of our air quality monitoring programme which will provide vital information on how we are getting on and what we need to do going forward.”

The Office for National Statistics announced that the total emissions from motor vehicles fell 12% from 2012 to 2016. However, the UK remains in breach of European limits for nitrogen oxides (NOx) in 15 cities.

Work on air quality issues is deeply rooted within the University’s activities through the way we operate and what we research and teach. The University’s Sustainability Strategy, Travel Plan and Environmental Management System set targets to reduce the impact of our operations and encourage behaviour change relating to fleet, business and commuting travel.

Our initiatives for staff and students include promoting sustainable travel as the norm for our staff, students and visitors – for example, through walking, cycling, public transport and use of electric vehicles – all of which is central to our University Travel Plan.

Follow the links below to find out more about the range of initiatives that exist:

Have your say

At the start of the year, Leeds City Council launched the Clean Air Zone public consultation. It is seeking input into proposals for a Leeds Clean Air Zone and additional measures to reduce air quality levels to an acceptable level within the shortest possible timescales.

The University is preparing an Institutional response and is encouraging as many people to review the proposals and respond in a personal capacity.

The consultation survey can be completed online and runs until 2 March 2018. 

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