Enabling research and real-world innovation on campus Enabling research and real-world innovation on campus

UEA's Living Lab connects the physical campus with our research and student enthusiasm, through technical innovation and student-led projects.

Students can propose and carry out projects across the University to improve UEA's sustainability. These projects are carried out directly on and with the buildings, grounds and operations of the University.

We are developing the UEA campus as a site for developing real-world skills around sustainability and low carbon:

  • Students gain project management and other CV skills, through real-world scenarios and projects
  • Researchers can link to Estates data and support for projects
  • The University gains insight into issues and potential solutions.

Propose new projects, get involved, or find out more

Students can take part in volunteer projects such as energy audits, or they can incorporate sustainability into their degree by using the University’s buildings and data as a case study in their research projects.

The Living Lab connects operational issues with student interests and academic needs. Projects could include surveys of staff and student attitudes, low carbon technology feasibility studies, or post-occupancy evaluation of buildings. They can be to meet an academic requirement, or from students’ personal interest in building practical experience and skills around sustainability.

Email Catrin Darsley, Environmental Officer for more information.

Strategy behind education for sustainable development at UEA

UEA views ESD through the lens of 'future skills'. What skills do our graduates need to be inspired and active members of a changing economy, environment and social arena? How can we as a university facilitate this through teaching and learning, both formal and informal?

The Future Skills Initiative Working Group is chaired by the Academic Director of Taught Programmes. The group determines the strategy for ESD and is comprised of representatives from each academic Faculty, the student body, the Careers service, and the Sustainability Team. It works through each Faculty's committee for teaching and learning (the Faculty Learning, Teaching and Quality Committees) to work towards embedding sustainable development across UEA's taught programmes. The group reports to the Sustainability Board annually, and is audited regularly as part of UEA's Environmental Management System.

An open-access internal Blackboard site is under development, with case studies of how different academic Schools have got involved as well as guidance and background information. Each School has been approached to answer 17 questions posed by QAA and HEA1, creating a database for each School and module convenor to draw from.

1 - Education for Sustainable Development: Guidance for UK higher education providers, 2014, The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, and the Higher Education Authority (page 18)

Project ideas Project ideas

Here are some project areas and ideas that could be modified for specific projects. Projects can be carried out by individuals or groups. Contact the Environmental Officer with any questions or proposals.

Previous projects

Tree planting on campus to offset event and fieldtrip emissions

  • 2016 (group voluntary project): Abigail Keane-Atkins (1st Year, ENV), Emily Lewis (1st Year, ENV), Hans Pfalzgraf (3rd Year, BIO), Becky Smith (1st Year, ENV): The team worked with Matthew Bennet, Senior Laboratory Technician, to begin work on a UEA Sustainable Labs Guide. The work was instrumental in pulling together research on opportunities for the University, as well as highlighting ways that lab users can enhance the efficiency and eco credentials of their work areas.

  • 2015 (MSc project): Anna Tuddenham: 'An investigation into the motivations and barriers to participation in liftsharing using a social psychological approach: A case study analysis of Liftshare at The University of East Anglia'.

  • 2015 (voluntary project): Nalisha Parmar, a student from the School of Environmental Sciences, calculated the carbon footprint of a School careers event. This lead to a new scheme for on-campus tree planting to offset event and fieldtrip emissions.

    Find out more: Read the case study

Inspiration for potential UEA student projects with the Living Lab

Behavioural/ psychology

  • What practices can new students adopt through different interventions, and how can these students be encouraged to participate in ‘greening’ UEA? (in progress: PhD project on water saving, ENV; energy reduction project, ECO)
  • To what extent do UEA students value the UEA environment, and what influences their values? (planning stages: 2016 MSc research project)
  • What is the associated value of the UEA Green Impact Awards programme (through which the Sustainability Team aims to encourage positive behaviour change across campus)? What effect has it had on sustainability at UEA / what social benefits can be observed?

Biodiversity and grounds

  • Biodiversity audit of campus species (ongoing, via Dr Iain Barr, School of Biological Sciences).
  • Key species case studies; analysis of habitat creation or development success.

Built environment

  • Assess UEA residences with a thermal imaging camera, and identify key user issues affecting heating loss. Design a campaign to target key behaviours. (ENV practical)
  • Low carbon technology: (1) carry out a feasibility study to identify potential areas for investment in low carbon technology and produce a cost benefit analysis. (2) What is the perception of UEA’s sustainability and to what extent is is influenced by visible investment in low carbon technology?
  • Computer science: data modelling, three-dimensional analysis, virtual work. For example, ‘Assess the technological potential of the UEA estate for action towards a low carbon future’.


  • What affect does having an open, shared-use campus have on biodiversity: how could the University assess impact? How could UEA encourage more appropriate use of its green spaces by the UEA and local communities?
  • Post occupancy evaluation: How can our built environment affect wellbeing? Survey users of new buildings and assess the resulting data for (a) lessons to take into account in UEA’s future building projects (capital programme), and (b) issues needing resolution by Estates.
  • What opportunities, challenges and solutions result from an international campus community when engaging students in calls to recycle or be energy and water efficient?
  • Assess the language of environmentalism at UEA, and identify how this relates to the concept of ‘community’.

Energy and carbon

  • How can UEA reduce energy wastage from lighting? Carry out a lighting audit to identify high-energy areas and potential for replacement, or identify ‘unloved spaces’ with potential for presence sensor technology.
  • Lab equipment-use audits: what energy savings could we achieve? What could promote efficient, sustainable behaviours by lab users?
  • Business travel: How could UEA improve awareness of the carbon implications of business travel? What is our business travel carbon footprint? (Do we have an ethical imperative to consider carbon emissions alongside business travel need?)

Ethics and society

  • What are the ethical implications of purchasing specific items or commodities? How do or could ethics or political decisions impact on procurement needs of the University?
  • Assess the environmental and/or ethical implications of certain purchasing decisions [and work with procurement teams to create a whole life costing approach to UEA procurement].
  • How can we relate UEA’s socio-cultural context to its treatment of ethical or environmental issues?
  • To what extent can film inspire pro-environmental behaviours in the student body?

Travel and transport

  • Video conferencing: what are the barriers to take-up? How could UEA improve confidence in the technology?
  • GIS mapping: Where do UEA staff/ students commute from – what opportunities are there to support or target specific modes of sustainable travel?