Lancaster University's Physics garden

Sustainability Commitments

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

Lancaster's Physics Department recognises that sustainability needs to be embedded in our research culture, teaching culture and department culture, and promoted externally through advocacy

We support the aim of Lancaster University to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2035

Tab Content: Travel

  • We will take measures to both avoid unnecessary travel (including the increased use of virtual meetings) and to reduce the carbon and environmental footprint of the necessary travel. We will do this by following the University guidance, including the travel decision tree, which states that exceptions to policy will need justification from the Head of Department. We will also look to mitigations beyond the University policy (such as offsetting for essential travel).

Tab Content: Research culture

  • We will promote sustainability within the research culture, by considering the environmental and carbon cost of our work from procurement through operation to the end-of-life disposal. We will work with facilities to monitor our energy consumption and seek means of reducing the environmental impact of our activities. Each group should identify large contributions to environmental impact, and produce a plan for reduction and mitigation, mindful of the fact that much of our impact may be ‘offshored’ to non-Lancaster facilities. Where possible, we will take actions that improve the environmental sustainability at source rather than offsetting.
  • We will seek opportunities to further research whose outcomes will have a positive environmental impact.
  • We will encourage and support the sustainability agenda within our external collaborations.

Tab Content: Teaching culture

  • We will promote sustainable practices in our physical teaching environment, for example by following the guidance of the LEAF framework to achieve good teaching-laboratory practices; and by sharing best practice with other departments.
  • We will include environmental sustainability as a significant theme in our teaching and thereby exert influence on wider society. We will develop the idea of a Physics of Sustainability pathway through our undergraduate degree programme.
    • Examples that might be included in our teaching include:
      • Students should calculate the approximate power output if the physics roof were covered with various types of solar panel and compare with expected output from University’s solar farm.
      • Calculate the output of the University wind turbine in first year courses.
      • Use climate change to teach back-of-envelope / order of magnitude estimation.
      • Provide students with the opportunity to estimate the fragility of climate parameters such as acceptable temperatures, oxygen content, water levels.
      • Obtain a wide range of data from the University’s solar farm and wind turbine for use in student analyses, including MPhys projects.

Tab Content: Department culture

  • We will enhance sustainability as a focus of the Department, including in external communications and marketing.
  • Sustainability should become an increasing aspect of most activities, and it will be discussed in multiple fora, including when appropriate Departmental Committee meetings and Away Days.
  • Immediate actions to improve sustainability include:
    • For event catering, making vegan options available as standard, without attendees having to request it as a special dietary requirement; and by avoiding ordering single-use plastics (such as bottled water) from catering.
    • Ensuring that any giveaways at Departmental or locally-hosted events are of genuine use, and sustainably produced and packaged. Where the opportunity arises, they could be used to enhance and promote sustainability.
    • Encouraging practices which reduce our paper consumption.
    • Use of reusable coffee/tea cups rather than disposable cups.
    • Turning off computers and other teaching/research equipment when safe and not in use, including in teaching/research labs.

Tab Content: Advocacy

  • Work with the University to identify possible actions to improve and encourage sustainability. This may include:
    • Advocating central financial support for more sustainable but more expensive options.
    • Advocating incentives to encourage longer/slower but more sustainable travel and enhance productivity while travelling (e.g. overnight hotels for long journeys, higher than standard/economy ticket classes for very long journeys, business lounges).
    • Encourage the increased monitoring and control of faculties and equipment to model usage and set quantified goals and indicators of progress on carbon reduction and sustainability action.
    • Work with external bodies (Funding Agencies, the Institute of Physics etc) to promote sustainability.

Sustainability Lead

Laura Kormos

Dr Laura Kormos

Senior Lecturer

Experimental Particle Physics, FST Sustainability Advisory Committee

+44 (0)1524 593352 B030, B - Floor, Physics Building