Living Labs

Living Labs are open innovation systems that encourage staff and students to address real life sustainability challenges.

What is a Living Lab?

For a university, a Living Lab brings an opportunity for students, academic staff, professional staff and external bodies to collaborate on projects looking at real-life sustainability problems.

By using our campuses as a tester site, we provide value in professional experience, but also the chance for innovations to improve our environmental performance.  Whether it is a research-led campus design adapting to climate change, trialling new engagement methods, improving wellbeing or enhancing our natural habitats, we encourage everyone to get involved with the Living Lab.

Data Availability

We generate a lot data! From utility consumption and building layout to habitat and wildlife species identification, by analysing data we can better understand our campuses to deliver a better environmental performance. Upon request, we can provide data to assist in project progression or showcase a university profile. If you would data for your project contact us on

Outside Education

Our campuses are also available to use as a non-traditional classroom – for example our Avery Hill Community Edible Garden is available for academic staff and students to use for natural teaching and learning techniques. It can be used for a large number of taught disciplines using the learning opportunities it makes available. For information download this guide into natural learning.

Potential Projects

There is an unlimited set of possibilities, but some potential Living Lab project areas include:

  • Environmental Conservation: Monitoring wildlife to identify their importance and improve conservation efforts.
  • Marketing: Developing behavioural campaigns to bring about a positive cultural change.
  • Energy Management: Analysis and modelling of electricity and gas usage with degree days for campus buildings.
  • Transport: GIS mapping to understand staff and student commuting trends.
  • Waste:  Mapping bins, contamination, purchases and behaviour to tackle the challenges of segregating correctly.
  • Procurement:  Researching into the lifecycle of products, from design to end of use and how switches can occur.
  • Awareness:  Utilising the latest technology to promote positive change.
  • Fairtrade: Investigating how Fairtrade impacts upon farmers, their rights and environmental practices (click here to find out how this interdisciplinary area can relate to your study).

If you would like to get involved at Greenwich please email . Funding may be available for some living lab projects; information and a submission form can be found here.

Past Staff Projects

  • Our Architecture have been using our estate to identify how nature can be incorporated into building design. This has included the installation of living walls and use of aquaponics in food production systems.
  • Academic Mohammad Sakikhales initiated the Digital Twin project to map our and digitise our Grade 1 listed Queen Anne building. This builds on other research work undertaken by Simon Withers to scan the underground structures relating to the Tudor Palace of Palencia that the Greenwich Maritime historic site was built. This has resulted in papers and conferences relating to this work.  Mohammad has also been BIM modelling the university’s Cooper Building to seek opportunities for energy efficiency, supported by an MSc student.
  • The Faculty of Engineering and Science’s Dr Debbie Bartlett applied her research in co-creating with her students to develop a new approach on delivering her Environmental Management module.  The outcomes can be found in this journal article.
  • Dr. Andres Coca-Stefaniak (Module Leader) teaches on the CATE1179 Sustainable Tourism module, part of the BA (Hons) Tourism Management. This module includes a student activity in Greenwich Park with input from Royal Parks to investigate aspects of nature-based tourism and the role of parks in the well-being of local communities as well as the visitor economy.
  • Dr. Andres Coca-Stefaniak (Module Leader) and Dr Ewa Krolikowska teach on the CATE1175 Sustainable Events module, part of the BA (Hons) Events Management. This module includes a field trip to Charlton Athletic Football Club for students to investigate aspects of social sustainability.
  • Dr Katharina Greve is a Lecturer in Creativity and Innovation in the Department for Systems Management and Strategy at the University of Greenwich Business School. Katharina’s research actually focuses on Living Labs themselves. She explains within her book chapter the projects that benefitted from co-creation, and has examined the academic debate surrounding Living Labs (see Greve et al., 2020Greve et al., 2021). You can often find Katharina sharing her research through podcastsinterviewswebinarsarticles and blogs and her insights informed the development of the multi-million-pound Innovation Hubs at London Bridge and Euston Station. At the University of Greenwich Learning and Teaching Festival 2021, Katharina explained how Living Labs can help transform learning with examples of Living Labs at work within other Universities.

Past Student Projects

There have been some great innovations by our students over recent months and years. Here is a small collection of students and their work at Greenwich.  More details and videos of past projects can be found on our Living Lab Blogs page.

  • In June 2023 the university launched with support from RSK five £1,000 grants for student-led living lab projects, these run from Autumn 2023 and are a great opportunity for students to develop projects supported by academics and the sustainability team to develop projects that deliver sustainability impact. Projects funded include exploring opportunities to save energy in labs and analysis of meter data at Medway, citizen science focused nature monitoring at Avery Hill and a student sustainability ‘hack’ in the Autumn term of 2024. Further information here. If  you have an idea that could be funded through a living lab initiative then get in touch.
  • Creation of sustainable awards for UoG Annual Staff Awards. Sustainability was a core requirement of the 2023 UoG Staff Awards and this included the design and production of the awards that were given to winners. This video, created by students illustrates how the students and staff worked to create these excellent and sustainable prizes.
  • Student energy and space utilisation project. In April 2023 Computing student Ratan Jannu started applying his data analytical expertise to identify how to save energy and improve space utility to help reduce our energy and space needs. This project will run into 2023/24 with an expectation that further opportunities for students to analyse data will occur. This position is paid and Ratan works with the Building Services Manager and Sustainable Development Unit to ensure his work is applied to make savings identified.
  • Students from the Enactus programme established Bee Sustainable in 2021 to support local bee and other pollinator populations in addition to the creation of primary education materials. The University provided space for the group to create bee friendly gardens and bee hotels.
  • Circular Textiles Greenwich was an initiative launched by Law students in 2020 to encourage students to better understand fast fashion and its impacts on society and the planet. With the students graduating and to create a legacy of the project, the Sustainability Team took on the project, launching its first in November 2023 within Daniel Defoe and events planned every semester.
  • The Innocence Project London is another example of how the university where our students and staff are utilising their knowledge and experience for good. This initiative runs every year to support student practice.
  • 2017 Engineering Graduate Kamal Farid tested his carbon negative road building material at one of our campuses. We provided permission to dig up some of our tarmacked areas and to lay his materials according to UK regulated roadbuilding standards. In 2019 the findings were sent to the Department of Transport to get accreditation for use as a permitted road surface in the UK. Kamal won an innovation grant from the University to set up a company to establish this product on a wider scale.