Porritt launches Sustainability Institute at Leeds Met
The Leeds Sustainability Institute will tackle the challenges of creating more sustainable places, communities and economies to enable society and its infrastructure to become sustainable.
Jonathon Porritt, founder of Forum for the Future, the UK's leading sustainability development charity gave a keynote address at the launch where he outlined the benefits of the green economy as the principle driver to stimulating economic recovery in the United Kingdom.
The former director of Friends of the Earth said: "Some of the most exciting sustainability developments going on in the UK at the moment are in Higher Education and for me this is crucially important because the whole sustainability story is what we as one generation owe to the next generation and how we need to act in their interests as much as our own interests."
He added: "Universities have three critical roles; they have to make sure that their own built environment is developed to the highest possible sustainability standards, they have to develop really good relationship with the local community in which they are based and on whom they depend and their curriculum has to reflect sustainability in every single aspect. If universities can do that then young people will be empowered, they will get a sense of ownership around the sustainability agenda, that it is a transformative power when you see that at work."
Speaking about the impact of the Leeds Sustainability Institute he said: "The LSI is in a very strong position as its focus is on the built environment, buildings in their setting and about the uses of that building. There is no point building wonderful buildings if people don't manage them to optimise the benefits of more sustainable design. The Leeds Sustainability Institute has said that's our patch, where we can add real value which it allows it to think in interdisciplinary ways about how the built environment shapes every aspect of people's lives."
Also speaking at the event, which took place at the University's BREEAM 'Excellent' rated Rose Bowl, was George Martin, former head of sustainable development at Willmott Dixon, Jon Price Centre Director of the Centre for Low Carbon Futures and Professor Malcolm Bell, an expert in the implementation of zero carbon housing policy.
Academics at Leeds Metropolitan are already well-established sustainability specialists and their consultancy and business services are already making a significant contribution in social policy, low carbon building materials, green computing, renewable energy and sustainable infrastructure.
Leeds Sustainability Institute Director, Professor Chris Gorse, said: "The Institute already has a wealth of knowledge and experience, but the economic, environmental and social challenges require a connected approach, embracing leading experts from a broad field of industry, academia and society. Our aim is to develop research and enterprise that makes a positive difference. The Institute will provide a clear path to those that want to engage and a more responsive unit that can develop and connect expertise. Whilst our reach extends around the world, the economic and environmental challenge requires positive local and global impact, something that we aspire to."
"The Leeds Sustainability Institute field trials and work with communities are having a direct impact on the policy and regulation that will pave the way to a low carbon built environment. Practices developed are being adopted across Europe and impacting on the way buildings are tested and monitored to ensure performance. Feedback from the University's recent research has resulted in new standards, taking a step closer to the zero carbon and low impact solution."
Sustainability experts at Leeds Metropolitan University are currently working extensively in Africa. Funding was awarded in 2011 from the Water Research Fund for Southern Africa (WARFSA) to undertake research and development work in Malawi. Additionally, funding has been secured from the Department for International Development (DfID) to develop a range of new postgraduate courses in Africa in conjunction with the Universities of Malawi and Botswana. The focus of these courses is on sustainable engineering.
The core themes of the Leeds Sustainability Institute include:
People and Places - Creating better and more research-informed policy on the sustainable management of spaces and places. Providing policy analysis and evaluation that contributes to making stronger and more resilient communities.
Infrastructure - Developing more resilient and sustainable products and infrastructure. Assisting the developing world with sustainable resources at all levels.
Buildings and the Environment - Developing forensic and in-use research to understand new, existing and retrofit buildings, at domestic and commercial scale. Understanding the physics and operation of buildings and their designs, testing construction models and evaluating their performance in the real world situations.
Business Practice - Providing efficient project and process management to support sustainable development, whilst maintaining corporate, social and legal responsibility. Building enterprise without negative impact.
Energy - Understanding power supply, energy recovery, renewable energy, micro generation, networks and building management systems. Developing an understanding of the relationships between buildings and occupant behaviour.
Information and Communication Technologies - Understanding the application of ICT in enabling sustainability by use of these technologies for management and monitoring, while also ensuring that the ICT systems are resource efficient. Understanding the impact, technicalities, benefits and the business of Building Information Modelling.