Got a question about LiFE? We've got the answer!

Here are some of the questions we think you might have about LiFE. If you don't find the answer you're looking for here, call us on 01242 714321 or email life@eauc.org.uk.

The FAQs are broken into 8 key sections. Simply click on a section below to be taken to the questions and answers:

About LiFE
EAUC support
Using the tool
Future changes to the tool
Engaging others with LiFE


About LiFE

Why was LiFE developed?
Learning in Future Environments (LiFE) was developed by the EAUC in response to a growing need to embed environmental and social responsibility into the activities of universities and colleges. This has been set against a backdrop of economic challenges facing the sector, which include an increased need to demonstrate how they are delivering economic value.

Throughout the development of LiFE, the EAUC has worked extensively with stakeholders and institutions from across the sector. This support has been crucial to develop a system that is relevant and beneficial to all types of institutions.

LiFE was developed with generous support from our funding partners Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), Scottish Funding Council (SFC) and the Department for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland (DELNI), as well as direct input from across the sector.

When can I start using LiFE?
You can start LiFE at any time – there is no timed cycle to follow. LiFE is flexible so you can adapt it to fit in with your own strategic planning or action planning schedules.

When should I review my progress?
This is completely up to you! But we see LiFE as being an engagement tool so use it to drive others’ activity and track progress.

It is good practice to show progress on a regular basis, but give yourself enough time to make big enough changes to see the impact. Or, you might like to use the tool to project manage by asking your teams to report back to you monthly to keep a closer eye on progress. In this way, LiFE is a good tool to keep teams on track with one person at the helm.

You could align it to your own / departmental business plan or 5 year strategy so you can report progress alongside your wider internal reporting mechanisms.

Within the Annual Review, we ask you to send your completed tool to us in July every year and while we don’t expect you to align your updates to this timeline, it might be a good time to focus your teams as it fits with the end of the academic year.

Why is LiFE free?
The EAUC are constantly looking for ways to add value to the Membership fee and offer products and services that drive sustainability improvement. The introduction of LiFE as a free Member service fulfills both aspects of this objective. We’re confident that LiFE can help our Members to effectively plan and deliver sustainability at whatever stage you are on your journey.

What if I don’t renew my Membership?
LiFE is only available to current EAUC Members so if you decide not to renew your Membership, you are no longer permitted to use the tool and will not able to access any of the support. Any unauthorised use of the tool will be in breach of copyright.

Why do I have to report to the EAUC via the Annual Review?
To know where support is needed and to anonymously review the sector, we will ask you to submit the completed tool to us annually. No form filling, no extra work, just pop it in an email. We will use the combined information to guide our services over the coming year and provide the sector with some useful insight. All specific information regarding your institution will remain confidential – we will not name any institutions.

How have others institutions used LiFE?
You’ll find some testimonials from the previous iteration of LiFE. These are useful to understand each institutions’ aims and objectives for using LiFE and how they saw it fitting in to their wider strategies.

Why should I do LiFE if I already have an Environmental Management System or submit to the Green League?
LiFE is not a replacement for existing processes you may undertake such as an Environmental Management System, ISO14001 or the Green League or any other tools. LiFE covers all aspects of an institution - including learning and teaching which is the core business for any institution. Other systems may not cover these areas in such detail. LiFE is not just an environmental system, it takes a holistic approach to sustainability and covers social aspects.

Some aspects of LiFE are already mapped to existing best practice such as the Flexible Framework. We will continue to look  at other systems and if appropriate we will map to the relevant area to avoid duplication within the sector. LiFE can help with other systems, for example LiFE is referred to within the Education section for the Green League and NUS activities.

You can use your existing processes and systems to show evidence of your activity in the relevant areas such as Estates and Operations. You may find that by incorporating this evidence you have already achieved a lot in some areas and LiFE will help you review where further work is required in other areas such as Partnerships and Engagement and Teaching and Learning. We believe LiFE is the only tool that truly represents a whole institution approach to sustainability and encourages you to use existing processes to avoid duplication of efforts.

Why should I do LiFE if I already take part in UCCCfS?
Complementing the strategic overview of LiFE, the Universities and Colleges Climate Commitment for Scotland (UCCCfS) particularly addresses the strategic and operational challenges of climate change and aims to achieve a significant reduction in emissions. The programme is delivered by the EAUC in Scotland and is funded by the Scottish Funding Council. Signatories produce and publish a 5-year Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP) which drives a reduction of carbon footprint through both estates and curriculum activity.

EAUC support

Where can I get support for LiFE?
You will find a whole area of support on the Resources section of this website. Here you’ll find links to lots of support and guidance. Through EAUC Membership, there are increased opportunities to engage with a community of participants, helping you to share ideas and good practice.

EAUC resources and events have been aligned to the LiFE Frameworks for some time now. This support, through a common language throughout all aspects of Membership, provides a comprehensive package, designed to help you get the most value from participating in LiFE.

The Sustainability Exchange will also be a highly valuable tool allowing you to search for resources by Framework and you can filter by ‘type’ where you can find the items you need by a number of the Activity Areas.

How do I get more one to one support – e.g. a visit from EAUC?
You can call the EAUC at any time if you have any specific questions or need to find a resource or someone to talk to. If you need to talk the tool through in more detail, we can organise an online meeting or arrange a face to face meeting. We are here to support you so get in touch.

What else are you doing to support users?
In the coming months, we’re visiting EAUC regional group meetings and creating a dialogue with Communities of Practice and Topic Support Networks to talk about how LiFE can support you within Membership. Please do come along to a meeting and find out more. If you’re not signed up to a group, it is a great chance to share good practice with others on how to progress in LiFE. View our Regional groupsCommunities of Practice and Topic Support Networks and sign up today.

We’re also planning some webinars about using the tool and other key topics that users would find useful. If you have any ideas for a webinar, please contact us at life@eauc.org.uk. A key area will be how you’ve engaged others with LiFE so we’ll be looking for good examples to share with other Members. You can also view podcasts of all past webinars which may be useful with LiFE.

Using the tool

Do I have to self-assess in all four Priority Areas?
No! LiFE allows you to tailor your approach - take one Priority Area or Framework at a time or facilitate a truly ‘whole-institution’ approach.

Do I have to self-assess in all Frameworks within a Priority Area?
Again, no! You can choose which Frameworks you complete.

What happens if there is an error in the spreadsheet?
If you have adapted the tool, this may be the result of this. We are unable to assist with any errors as a result of changes made to the tool outside of its intended use. If you’re confident that it’s an issue with the tool in its unaltered form, please contact the EAUC immediately on 01242 714321.

Can I tell people what my self-assessment score is?
You can outline the Award level internally as these are useful for showing an indication of where you’re at or how you’re progressing. However, you are not permitted to use the official standard in the public domain unless you have been through the official LiFE Accreditation scheme (available in mid-2015).

Once you have been officially Accredited by the EAUC, you will have access to the LiFE Accreditation logos for your use in an official capacity. We will also work with you on announcing it publicly.

Why are there two versions of the tool?
We realise that every institution is different which is why the tool is so flexible. But there are fundamental differences between Higher and Further Education institutions when it comes to Research. Therefore, we have created a Further Education version of the tool which does not have the Research framework. This means the weightings in the Learning, Teaching and Research Priority Area have been adjusted accordingly.

You can choose which tool is right for your institution. For example, you may be a Higher Education institution but non research-based so that version of the tool may be best suited for you.

Why should a College use LiFE?
The economic and social contribution of Further Education colleges in the communities they serve is huge. Yet sector restructuring and the relentless pressure to reduce costs often means the sustainability focus is on saving money on energy costs. While LiFE does provide a structure to further reduce estate costs, it also provides a simple and easy to communicate framework to link and build college social, economic and environmental activities and aspirations in a more strategic way. 

Can I see how others have filled in the tool?
It is useful to see how others have entered evidence into the tool to inform your own approach. This is why we have added a sample tool on the website at www.eauc.org.uk/life/self-assessment_tool. This isn’t the only way to do it, just one possible way. This shows you how the Dashboard looks once completed and the Biodiversity Framework has real LiFE input from an institution in the Activity Areas.


How do I score myself?
Scoring is very simple! You’ll find full guidance in the tool itself or why not watch our 'How to use the Self-Assessment tool' video. If lots of people will be using the tool, the most important thing is consistency.

With this in mind, it might be useful to assign one person to complete the tool alongside the assigned person for that Priority Area/Framework. This gives you the chance to maintain a consistent view and to challenge the assigned person on the evidence added to ensure they are not being too generous as this may skew your results in the long term.

I only want to score myself for parts of a Framework – not all 8 Activity Area cells.
If you only want to score certain Activity Areas, simply select 0 for that cell.

I do not want to do all Frameworks but how can I show this on the Dashboard?
You need to make the dashboard work for you and the approach you’re taking for LiFE. So if you’re not assessing in certain Frameworks or Priority Areas, simply choose ‘Not Assessing’ in the Frameworks you are not doing and this will show on the Dashboard. Once you’re ready, start scoring in these areas and again the Dashboard will update accordingly.


What if I want to change the spreadsheet?
Whilst we encourage you to personalise the tool, we recommend you do not alter the methodology. All of the formulas in the tool are locked to prevent errors occurring. You can add any new formulas you wish to. However, if a new version of the Self-Assessment tool is released, it will not include your own formulas. To retain this, you’ll need to make the changes again.

Am I allowed to create my own graphs in the tool?
We encourage you to personalise the tool to make it your own so you can add any new graphs you wish to. Please be aware that the graphs that are included in the tool are locked but you can hide them if you do not wish to use them.

Am I allowed to add my own logo?
We encourage you to personalise the tool to make it your own as this will help others engage with it. This can include adding any logos or images. Also, if you assign particular people to Priority Areas or Frameworks, why not add them to the tool to give ownership.

Please be aware that the Self-Assessment tool remains the property of EAUC regardless of alterations you may make and the EAUC logo must remain on all tabs on the tool.

Future changes to the tool

How will you determine changes to the Self-Assessment tool?
LiFE will evolve based on your feedback as we genuinely want it to help you to plan and self-assess. We welcome all feedback on the tool and will be capturing this as more Members start using it. Any feedback can be sent to life@eauc.org.uk or call us direct on 01242 714321. We will review the feedback annually, make the priority changes and release a new version.

When will new versions of the Self-Assessment tool be issued?
We will keep users of LiFE and the rest of the Membership aware via the EAUC and LiFE websites and the usual communication channels (eNews) when new versions of the tool are released. You can choose to remain in the previous version but any new versions will include new functionality and changes based on your feedback so it is recommended that you transfer onto the new versions when they become available.

Engaging others with LiFE

How do I know which people in my institution should be involved in LiFE?
In each Framework, we identify the roles that could play a part in this area. Obviously, you may not have all/any of these roles at your institution, but it gives you an idea. You can then use your internal staff directory to locate these people.

You should also check who’s on your EAUC Membership for your institution as it means that they’re already engaged in the agenda. In the My EAUC area, you can view a list of contacts who are involved in Membership and you can also see their job titles. If there’s anyone missing, contact us at life@eauc.org.uk and we’ll add them on (‘Key contacts’ can also add people to the Membership).

How do I know who’s using LiFE within my institution?
As anyone can download the tool, you may find that multiple people in the institution are using it. This gives you a great opportunity to combine approaches or at least start the dialogue on how to collaborate. Contact the EAUC at any time and we can tell you who from your institution has logged in to the LiFE website.

How can I start the dialogue with LiFE in my institution?
There are lots of ways to do this depending on where you’re at in your sustainability journey. We’ve given you some ideas on the Resources section: ‘engaging your institution’. Here you’ll find some ideas for engaging with different groups in your institution, for example staff, leaders and students.


Why would I do Accreditation?
In mid-2015, institutions will have the choice to go for Accreditation. This provides you with independent assessment and verification of your performance compared to your own self-assessment. If you choose to, this can be used to publicly and positively promote your achievements and benchmark your success, both nationally and internationally. This option will carry a fee.

What will Accreditation cost?
As yet, we do not have a cost for Accreditation but as it will involve a site visit from a third party, we must cover this cost. More information will be available in 2015. If you know you will be looking to go for Accreditation, please contact life@eauc.org.uk.