The Lancaster University wind turbine viewed through the trees on campus

Sustainability Commitments

As a department, we make the following annually reviewed commitments to improving our sustainability.

Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC) recognises that sustainability needs to be embedded in everything we do:

  • Through our research and partnerships we strive to address the big environmental and societal challenges we face.
  • Through our teaching we aim for students and staff to inspire and influence each other to develop and apply the knowledge and skills needed to contribute to creating a sustainable, more equitable world.
  • Through our everyday work we also aim to practice and promote sustainability.

We recognise that many of our current practices are not in line with addressing the climate and ecological emergency, and we seek to change this as soon as possible.

We support calls for Lancaster University to commit to a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2030, and we want to play our part in achieving this target.

We have developed a ‘decision tree’ to assist with decision-making about travel modes and alternatives to travel. Download a copy here: Travel Decision Tree‌.

Tab Content: Community

  • We actively encourage and welcome ideas on advancing our sustainability as a Centre and a University.
  • We will support the work and suggestions of a working group of LEC students and staff to continuously develop the sustainability of our department in an open and inclusive way.
  • We will work with others in our campus community and beyond to help advance our wider institutional sustainability policies and help promote and influence sustainability in the wider world.
  • We will develop ways to quantify and track our progress against specific targets.

Tab Content: Teaching, learning & engaging

  • We will integrate sustainability knowledge and skills into teaching and learning across our degree programmes, doctoral training programmes and extracurricular activities (e.g. Beyond LEC and LEC Society events).
  • We will provide opportunities for students to research aspects of LEC/LU sustainability (e.g. through dissertations) and ensure that the recommendations arising from their research are considered by decision-makers and implemented where possible.
  • We will provide information to students on the environmental impacts of our modules and other activities to help inform choices.

Tab Content: Travel

  • We will encourage and support our community of staff, students and affiliates to avoid or reduce work and study-related travel emissions wherever possible. This will include the provision of information, time, IT equipment, training and support to enable virtual meetings to replace long-distance travel to face-to-face meetings wherever possible.
  • We will use a ‘decision tree’ to assist with decision-making about travel modes and alternatives to travel. Download a copy of the 'Travel Decision Tree‌' to reassess your own travel planning.
  • We will avoid flights to destinations within the British Isles in all but the most exceptional circumstances, and advocate avoiding flights to European destinations easily reachable by train (e.g. Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam).
  • We will consider and consult on ideas for reducing the number of LEC field courses which are dependent on flying, potentially switching to alternative, attractive locations reachable by coach/rail/ferry for future cohorts of students.
  • We will consider the delivery distance of goods that we purchase, and prioritise local/UK suppliers over international deliveries where feasible.

Tab Content: Food & catering

  • We will aim for all catering purchased by the department to include ingredients that are local/seasonal and/or organic, and for information about food sustainability to be available when procuring and consuming catering.
  • We will minimise meat and seafood consumption by purchasing catering for departmental events that is entirely or mainly vegetarian/vegan.
  • Vegan options will be available as standard, without attendees having to request it as a special dietary requirement, and we will work with caterers to ensure that vegan options are not inferior.
  • Fairly traded food and drink will be purchased wherever possible (e.g. tea, coffee, chocolate, fruit).

Tab Content: Waste

  • We will reduce food waste and other waste associated with catering, e.g. by working with Green Lancaster on waste and composting initiatives, and by avoiding single-use plastics (such as bottled water, disposable cups, plates and cutlery).
  • We will audit our laboratory and procurement practices to reduce the waste generated from our research.
  • We will seek ways to reduce the amount of electricity, gas and water consumed by our buildings and equipment.
  • We will purchase recycled and recyclable products and packaging wherever possible, and dispose of waste responsibly, prioritising re-use and recycling where possible.
  • We will encourage practices which reduce our paper consumption.

For more information and discussion

These commitments have been developed by the Lancaster Environment Centre Sustainability Group in consultation with all members of the department. For more information and discussion please contact group leads Dr Jess Davies and Dr Emily Heath.

Jessica Davies

Professor Jessica Davies

Professor of Sustainability

Centre of Excellence in Environmental Data Science, Improving global stewardship, Soil Plant and Land Systems, Sustainable Catchments, Understanding a changing planet

+44 (0)1524 595009
Emily Heath

Dr Emily Heath

Teaching Fellow

Earth Science