Sustainability Review of the Year

Posted on: 20 December 2023 in Issue 7

As we head towards the New Year, we look back at some of the highlights from the Sustainability Department over the past twelve months.

Investment in Sustainability Staff  

Throughout the year several new staff have been appointed within FRCS to support environmental sustainability objectives linked to our estate, including a Head of Environmental Sustainability and Energy Services, a Circular Economy Manager, a Waste and Recycling Officer, and a new Sustainability Officer. Existing roles have been redeployed to form a new Sustainability Department which is led by a Head of Sustainability Programmes and has responsibility for ensuring the Sustainability Strategy and associated plans are delivered in the agreed timescales. In addition, we welcomed two dedicated sustainable procurement roles to support the development and implementation of our responsible procurement policy and Net Positive Futures, as well as a Laboratory Sustainability Officer to deliver the roll out of LEAF. To celebrate this, we ran a Meet the Team series across our social media channels.

Sustainability Week

In February the University hosted its first ever Sustainability Week. Working in collaboration with the Guild of Students to deliver nearly 50 different events for staff and students, the aim of the week was to raise awareness of sustainability objectives and initiatives at the University and promote positive behaviour change amongst our community. The week kicked off with the Sustainability Fair, showcasing a range of stalls hosted teams across the University, the Guild of Students, Sowing the Seeds of Sustainability, Student Sustainability NetworkLEAF, and external organisations such as Liverpool Food Growers NetworkLiverpool Friends of the EarthThe Fermentation Station, plus many more. We also had a visit from Vice-Chancellor Professor Tim Jones, along with Professor Anthony Hollander and Professor Fiona Beveridge. Events held during the week were varied to reflect our broader commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and included a lecture on Net Zero Challenges and Solutions delivered by Professor Ric Williams and Professor Karl Whittle, workshops on creative plastics recyclingzero waste sauerkraut makingswap shopsfilm screenings in the VG&M, active travel cycle event with Peloton, a falconry display and guided tours of the Energy CentreLEAF accredited laboratories as well as the MIF and the Spine Building. Sustainability Week 2024 will take place from 26th February – 1st March, so watch this space for details coming soon!

Travel Survey

In April, the University community were able to have their say on travel and transport at the University with the launch of a Travel Survey. The survey, was open to all staff and students and aimed to gather information on travel habits, including how people travel to and from the University, how often they travel and what modes of transport they use. The data collected from the survey is helping us to identify opportunities to expand and improve sustainable travel services, particularly cycling, walking, and public transport. This will not only reduce our carbon impact but will contribute towards improving the health and wellbeing of our students.

Earth Day

Each year the world celebrates Earth Day and the theme for this year’s event on 22nd April was ‘invest in our planet’. This was the perfect opportunity to showcase how we are harnessing our strengths in research and education to drive forward the solutions and cultural change needed to move to a fairer, more sustainable future. A dedicated Earth Day Hub was developed to highlight the work being undertaken by experts, students and alumni who are creating positive change, and encouraged the University to make a difference with the variety of projects and activities that staff and students can get involved in. We also marked the occasion with the launch of a new sustainability video filmed during Sustainability Week, where we talked to colleagues from across the University and the Guild of Students to find out about some of our key commitments and the steps we are taking to become a leader in sustainability. 

Net Zero Week

In July for Net Zero Week, we took the opportunity to explore the significant progress that the University had made towards achieving net zero by 2035 since the launch of the Climate Plan. This year we embarked on an exciting journey to fully decarbonise our campus, by enlisting the services of Ramboll to oversee the creation of the decarbonisation plan. Whilst the decarbonisation options provided by Ramboll will address scope 1 emissions in the long term, a further study has been conducted to look at ways to reduce CO2 from our Energy Centre’s CHP operation in the short term. Running in parallel, we are also implementing a separate programme of work for a wholescale energy efficiency survey of the estate. Together with the District Network and energy supply decarbonisation, this will support full delivery of the University’s 2035 net zero carbon target across scope 1 and 2 emissions.

LEAF Roll Out

This year, both the Open Access Laboratory in the Materials Innovation Factory and Mammalian Behaviour and Evolution (MBE) Laboratory at Leahurst became the first labs at the University to achieve the prestigious Laboratory Efficiency and Assessment Framework (LEAF) Gold Award Accreditation for their concerted efforts towards creating a more sustainable laboratory. The labs received LEAF Gold Award Accreditation for meeting the 43 distinct criteria organized around specific sustainability themes. To achieve this prestigious honour, technicians and academic staff demonstrated exemplary practices, including monitoring and analysing energy consumption within the lab. Using a data-driven approach empowered staff to make informed decisions to optimise energy usage and identify inefficiencies, leading to evidence-based improvements in sustainability measures. After running a successful pilot, LEAF was adopted by the University in 2022. Since then labs have been making significant steps to improve sustainability, with 64 in total awarded LEAF accreditation across the University, 52 labs have achieved Bronze, 10 have been awarded Silver 10, and 2 receiving Gold.

Environmental Management System (EMS) Audit

During the month of September, the University of Liverpool Environmental Management System was audited by NQA to ensure compliance with the ISO14001 standard. The audit was completed successfully, and we maintained our certification. Being accredited and audited allows us to continually improve in the management of our environmental aspects and the audit provided us with valuable opportunities for constructive enhancements of the system. These suggestions will be a key priority for the year ahead.

League Table Successes

This year, we enjoyed lots of success in university league tables, highlighting our commitment to building sustainability into everything we do. We were very proud to have been ranked among the world’s top 100 for our social, ecological and economic impact in the 2023 Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings. In the 2023/24 People & Planet University League, the University was ranked 47th, retaining its ‘2:1 class’. Plus, we climbed 100 places to be ranked among the world’s top 50 for our environmental and social impact in the annual QS Sustainability Rankings. These results are testament to the work that goes on right across the University focussed on sustainability in its broadest sense.


This year, we have received recognition for our efforts in the University of Liverpool Staff Awards, with Sian Fairhurst from Strategic Change winning the Sustainability on Campus Award for making a significant impact on sustainability at the University, and Sally Shaw, Head of Sustainability Programmes also received a commendation in the Inspirational Leader of the year category.

Our Sustainability Video was submitted by the School of Dentistry to the Association of Dental Education in Europe (ADEE) to showcase campus-wide initiatives, which draw together core components of sustainability into everyday campus life for staff and students, and won the 'campus initiative' award at the Oral Health Professional Educators’ Practice Green Awards. Plus, the Sustainability team and Strategic Change, were awarded a commendation in the ‘University Impact Initiative of the Year’ category at the sector-specific AUDE awards.

In addition, the University received ‘Best TravelWise Week Campaign for Business’ award at the Team Modeshift National Sustainable Travel Awards, acknowledging the University’s contribution to raising awareness of sustainable transport options and encouraging sustainable travel behaviours during TravelWise Week.


The University’s new strategic framework ‘Liverpool 2031’, which sets out the University’s vision for the future, was officially launched to staff, students and partners in October. Liverpool 2031 includes sustainability as a cross-cutting theme, acknowledging sustainability as a priority for the University. Recognising both the global value of the University’s academic role and its local impact as a large organisation, the vision is to drive forward environmental and social equity through education, research, and operations, making a positive impact within and beyond our boundaries. Research will be at the forefront of the University’s efforts as it commits to achieving global impact in addressing the greatest challenges facing today’s society, including accelerating progress towards and beyond the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. And, in addition to supporting the city region to meet its net zero commitments, within our physical and organisational boundaries, the University will place a strong focus on our sustainability and the transition to Net Zero by 2035.

COP28 Communications Campaign

The United Nations Climate Change Conference COP28 took place during December in the United Arab Emirates bringing world leaders together to discuss how to limit and prepare for future climate change. The programme for the two-week summit threw a spotlight on key climate-related issues such as energy and nature with the addition of some new themes including days dedicated to Health, Relief, Recovery, and Peace, as well as Trade and Urbanization A special COP28 website was launched, featuring latest news, blogs, reports, interviews and podcasts from researchers who are helping shape the debate. Throughout COP28, we used our social media channels to showcase how our world-leading research is connected to COP28's thematic programme and how Liverpool research can influence future policy, governance and innovation to combat the global climate crisis.

Sustainable Development Goals Report 2022-23

In December, we reflected on the amazing work being undertaken across the University in support of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our Sustainable Development Goals Report 2022-2023, provides a review of our performance over the previous academic year, and our progress towards tackling all 17 SDGs. It captures the activities across research, teaching, public engagement and campus operations which support these goals in alignment with the University's strategic vision and objectives.

What’s in Store for 2024?

2024 is set to be an exciting year for sustainability at the University of Liverpool, kicking off with Sustainability Week in February. Then, following the launch of the University’s new strategic framework Liverpool 2031, we plan to publish our new Sustainability Strategy in April which will expand on our newly agreed objectives:  

  • Our multi-disciplinary research will create global impact in addressing the greatest challenges facing today’s society
  • Our students will be empowered as global citizens to make a difference in a changing world
  • Sustainability, including the achievement of Net Zero by 2035, will underpin how we operate within and beyond our organisational boundaries

Our focus throughout next year, and beyond, will be on driving each of these objectives forward, whilst continuing to deliver the commitments set out in our Climate Plan, and our commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as our numerous regulatory and compliance activities linked to our ISO14001 accredited Environmental Management System. We will monitor our progress against a new set of strategic and operational metrics, reported quarterly to our Sustainability Board and Senior Leadership Team.  

For more information about sustainability plans and progress at University of Liverpool please contact the Sustainability Department by emailing