Sustainability Hub

Enterprises across the South West constantly have to adapt in the face of the global climate emergency. But what are the most effective ways to overcome the challenges and unlock the many opportunities these new environmental practices can create?

Answering those questions and developing solutions that can work for organisations of all shapes and sizes are among the main aims of a new initiative from the University of Plymouth.

The £2.6 million Sustainability Hub: Low Carbon Devon project, supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), will harness the University’s expertise and experience in sustainability to benefit the county’s employers.

Through a range of coordinated activities, it will make the existing knowledge base easier to access for relevant businesses, embed graduate talent in the local economy and apply specialist research and development capacity to local low carbon and growth needs.

Led by the University’s Sustainable Earth Institute, the project will run until 2023. It will help some organisations reduce their own energy consumption and support others in the development of new initiatives and innovations that can be brought to the wider market.

At the centre of the project is the Sustainability Hub, a refurbished building at the heart of the University’s main campus that aims to be a catalyst for low-carbon economic growth.

It has created a space where employers can meet with researchers and business experts to learn what will work for their companies. It will also be used to trial and test new technologies and innovations – such as green walls and energy-saving LEDs – before they are applied in wider commercial settings.

Sustainability Hub Launch
Sustainability Hub Launch
Sustainability Hub Launch

Dr Paul Lunt, Associate Professor in Environmental Science, is Director and Academic Lead for the Sustainability Hub: Low Carbon Devon project. He said:

“To reach zero net carbon emissions by 2050 and meet the challenges of increased urbanisation we will need new ways of thinking. Developments such as biophylic building design, with living walls and low energy lighting, offer significant opportunities to decarbonise our homes and businesses. The Low Carbon Devon project will work with existing and emerging local enterprises to help develop the skills and innovation to design buildings fit for a low carbon future. By working together to develop best practice and new areas of excellence, this can act as a catalyst here in Devon and inspire low carbon economic growth across the county.”

The Low Carbon Devon project is the latest initiative highlighting the University’s sustainability expertise and earlier this year, it supported a national call to declare a climate emergency. The University has previously earned five Green Gown Awards and three Guardian University Awards, embedding sustainability practices across its courses and campuses.

Professor Iain Stewart, Director of the Sustainable Earth Institute and a member of Devon County Council’s new Net-Zero Task Force, said:

“Climate change is in almost every news bulletin these days and there is growing global recognition that we all have our part to play in addressing it. As a university, we have a long pedigree of outstanding sustainability teaching and research so can provide the perfect ecosystem of knowledge and skills that enables companies to engage with real specialists in a range of fields. The Sustainability Hub gives us the space to make those conversations happen, while also serving as a living lab where ideas and innovation can flourish for the benefit of the wider community.”

The Sustainability Hub was officially launched at an event on Tuesday 10 December. The guest of honour was Michael Lewis, E.ON UK’s Chief Executive Officer, who then delivered a talk about the energy sector’s responsibilities for responding to the climate emergency.

Sustainability Hub Launch
Sustainability Hub Launch
Sustainability Hub Launch

The project is receiving up to £1,537,367 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014–2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit

Welcome to Sustainability Hub: Low Carbon Devon

The Sustainability Hub: Low Carbon Devon project will provide an exciting new catalyst for low-carbon economic growth in Devon.

Supported by an investment from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the three-year £2.6 million programme, will support Devon-based organisations to access research, business support, and engage with the University of Plymouth around the low-carbon agenda.

Thermal image of Plymouth taken by Matthew Fox, Environmental Building Group - Special Commendation in Visions of Sustainability 2015

Sustainable Earth Institute

The Sustainable Earth Institute is about promoting a new way of thinking about the future of our world.
We bring researchers together with businesses, community groups and individuals to develop cutting-edge research and innovative approaches that build resilience to global challenges. 
We link diverse research areas across the University including science, engineering, arts, humanities, health and business.

Sustainability with the University of Plymouth

Plymouth is making a powerful, positive difference to individual and collective futures, and striving for excellence in financial, environmental and social responsibility across all our activities.

Our sustainability ambitions stretch across campus operations, teaching and research in a unique institutional approach.

Learn more about our approach to sustainability
healthy and sustainable food is becoming a key vehicle for positive change in Plymouth.