Universities as carbon neutral ‘living labs for change’

Climate change solutions require dramatic shifts in organisations, not just communities. We will use the GW4 universities as “living labs for change” by rapidly developing integrated “whole-of-organisation” solutions. Combining operations, research, and teaching, we use our own climate transitions as innovative teaching and demonstrator projects, in line with the 2021 UK Innovation Strategy. As part of our civic mission, we employ our developed expertise and exemplary practice to support other organisations working to become sustainable and net zero by 2030.  

Case Study: University of Bath ‘Vertically Integrated Projects’

The University of Bath Vertically Integrated Projects (VIPs) enable teams of students from different disciplines and year group to work alongside academic staff on real-world challenges. VIP teams work proactively on issues related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals at global and local community levels. Many projects involve collaboration with external partners, such as communities and local authorities, and others offer the opportunity to influence the university’s own transition to sustainability.

In 2020/21, the University ran nine VIPs, led by 12 academic staff working with 150 students. Topics included green equity, carbon-neutral communities, and recycled plastics. Students participating in VIPs report benefits such as making new contacts, making a difference in the city of Bath, learning new skills, and having their voices heard.