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Greener housing options are now accessible for students in Leeds in bid to lower emissions

Student houses in Headingley, Leeds.

By Anna Doherty

After a year of campaigning and working with Leeds City Council and landlords, Zero Carbon Headingley has finally made sustainable housing an option for students in Leeds.

Zero Carbon Headingley is an environmental activism group that has been campaigning for change in Leeds. With four universities across the city and just over 60,000 students, the group believes tackling student housing is one of the best ways to lower carbon emissions.

Zero Carbon Headingley began as an initiative launched by Headingley Development Trust – one of the UK’s largest development trusts, along with the support of the larger activism group – Zero Carbon Yorkshire.

Zero Carbon Headingley’s logo.

Since their formation, the group has been tackling various issues in Leeds such as public transport, roads, the future of Leeds Bradford airport as well as working with businesses to implement strategies to lower carbon emissions.

Over the last year, the activism group has been working closely with rental agents across the city to develop a way of promoting energy efficient homes through an Energy Performance Certificate.

Matthew Hill, member of Zero Carbon Headingley and previous energy consultant said: “It’s been a massive challenge to get landlords on board with this new scheme but we are so pleased it is finally being implemented.

“The Energy Performance Certificate will go from A-G with A being optimum efficiency to G being the least efficient,” he added.

The Energy Performance Certificate that will now feature in student accommodation in Leeds.

Unipol getting on board

Unipol is one of the first and the biggest housing providers to get involved with the scheme. The housing company, which houses around 3,000 students in Leeds is promoting greener houses from their office as well as online.

Isaac Javier, a student at University of Leeds, voiced how this new scheme is a huge step in the right direction to getting bigger businesses and corporations to care about climate change.

He said: “It’s great to see landlords implementing this scheme. For students like myself who care about being sustainable, having things like this in place not only makes it easier to care but also encourages others to take notice of everything else too – like recycling and buying sustainably.”

The new scheme will allow students to make an informed choice when it comes to where they live by being able to see which properties are considered as low carbon.

The energy performance certificate rating housing from A-G, will be displayed in the house and advertised when looking for properties online.

Kelly-Anne Watson, delivery and development officer at Unipol, agreed that as more and more young people are beginning to care about the planet it is only right to give them the opportunity to reflect that in the housing they choose.

She said: “Unipol are always looking for new ways to improve our service as well as our commitment to reducing climate change.

“Along with this, we are working on loads of new schemes to make housing for young people more safe, accessible and sustainable,” she added.

Activism groups such as Extinction Rebellion have shown to the public that young people are passionate about climate change and that they are prepared to make the necessary adjustments to save the planet.

Improving awareness

Going further than this, Zero Carbon Headingley and Unipol are collaborating to raise awareness to students about simple things they can do to lower their carbon footprint.

Matthew Hill said that they are working with media and arts students at Leeds Arts University and Leeds Beckett to create posters and leaflets on how to be energy efficient at home.

For more updates on Zero Carbon Headingley’s work in the community follow their socials below:

Fact file on Leeds City Council’s plans for reducing climate change

  • Leeds City Council has pledged to make Leeds carbon neutral by 2030; a challenge that involves the whole city coming together to do their bit.
  • After consultation involving speaking to nearly 8000 individuals across 80 different events, Leeds City Council released their Climate Emergency Report in January 2020.
  • The research Leeds City Council carried out revealed that 94.8% are worried about the effects of climate change on future generations.
  • A series of new measures including the Clean Air Zone and Connecting Leeds are designed to not only reduce the carbon footprint across Leeds, but also to inspire other organisations and corporations to do the same.

More information is available on the Council website:

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