Page Updated: 24/03/2023 - 16:05

What is it?

For fifty years, UL has been at the forefront of finding solutions to today’s challenges.  UL Sustainability Challenge is a competition for UL students to develop proposals to tackle our climate crisis.  The competition is a partnership between the Bernal Institute, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Kemmy Business School, Buildings and Estates department and the Research Office which called on students to submit ideas to make our environment more sustainable – to either the campus, the city or wider Mid-West region or further afield.

Announcement of the UL Sustainability Challenge Winner, Tuesday April 25th 2023

In November 2022,  five finalist teams were selected by an independent expert panel comprising representatives from industry and academia.  The five teams each received support, and up to €10,000 to prepare and deliver a working pilot or demonstration of their proposal.

On Tuesday, April 25th, from 1 pm – 2:30 pm, the five student teams will present their proposals in the Bernal Institute Lecture Theatre, AD2-010, at the University of Limerick; this event is the moment they have been waiting for.

We are delighted to announce that award winning Science Communicator and Broadcaster Kathríona Devereux will deliver the keynote speech.

University of Limerick President Professor Kerstin Mey will then announce the overall winner of the Sustainability Challenge 2022. 

The outcome will be evaluated on the basis of targets, feasibility plan and societal impact.

University of Limerick President Professor Kerstin May announced the five finalist teams at an event in UL's Glucksman Library on Monday, November 21st 2022.

The finalist teams are:


  • Alice Shannon - 4th year PhD student, CONFIRM School of Design, Faculty of Science and Engineering 
  • Callum Guttridge - 3rd year PhD student, CONFIRM School of Design, Faculty of Science and Engineering
  • EmmaJude Lyons – 2nd year PhD student, CONFIRM School of Design, Faculty of Science and Engineering
  • Niall Mulcahy - 2nd year research Masters student, CONFIRM School of Design, Faculty of Science and Engineering

The project aims to harness plastic waste streams to benefit local communities, using waste material locally rather than transporting/exporting for recycling. Waste plastic bottles, made from PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic, will be collected and treated locally before the material is 3D printed to create urban furniture, large scale outdoor games for schools and art pieces.

‘TALBERT: ThermAL BridgE ReducTion’:

  • William O’Brien - 3rd year PhD student, CONFIRM
  • Mihai Penica - 3rd year PhD student, CONFIRM

The project team will utilize drones to undertake thermal mapping to generate a map of buildings for AI analysis of their heat envelopes. The pilot project will be an open source mapping service designed to allow residents to easily visualize the amount, location and cost of waste heat leaving their homes.

‘Sustainable Shores: Ireland's Life Below Water’:

  • Éabha Hughes - PhD applicant, School of Education, EHS

This project aims to achieve an educational framework with resource packages designed to develop scientific knowledge surrounding SDG14, create collaborative spaces/workshops/initiatives for individuals and local communities.

The project involves the integrated delivery of knowledge, skills and principles developed and contained within a core resource book (RB) titled ‘Sustainable Shores: Ireland’s Life Below Water’, accompanied by an online resource network.

‘Harnessing Heterogeneous Knowledge for Sustainable Agriculture’:

  • Rebecca Tumwebaze - 3rd year of PhD student (Knowledge Management) at Kemmy Business School

The project team will deploy collaborative workshops in Rubaya, south west Uganda to enhance knowledge sharing and develop a framework for sustainable matooke farming (highland cooking banana).

The workshops will involve smallholder farmers, commercial farmers, technical agriculture specialists, government extension officers, non-governmental players, and private sector players. 

The AKM framework, which will be the main output of this project, will be developed by a project team that brings together knowledge management and agriculture expertise. While it will be developed in Uganda, generalizability of the framework to countries with a similar context, such as the Sub-Saharan African and Asian countries is possible.

‘Clean, Accessible, Renewable and Efficient Energy – Metal-Free Catalysts to the Rescue? (CARE)’:

  • Raju Lipin - 2nd year PhD Student, Department of Chemical Sciences, Bernal Institute
  • Niamh Terranova - 2nd year Applied Physics undergraduate student, Department of Physics 

This proposal aims to develop the production of hydrogen gas, as an affordable, clean energy alternative. Hydrogen is proving itself to be an important fuel source for the future, as it is efficient, renewable, and more powerful than conventional fuels.

The team propose to collaborate with Dr A Susarrey Arce at the Mesoscale Chemical Systems Labs, University of Twente, Netherlands.

Competition Timelines

Deadline for applications:  5pm Thursday, August 25th 2022. The deadline to enter this competition has passed.

October 2022: Shortlisted entrants pitched their Project Proposal to the Independent Expert Jury.

November 2022:  The jury selected the five most promising Project Proposals

November, 21st 2022:  University of Limerick President Professor Kerstin Mey announced the five finalist teams at an event in UL’s Glucksman Library

Tuesday April 25th 2023, 1 pm – 2:30 pm:  University of Limerick President Professor Kerstin Mey will announce the overall winner in the Bernal Institute Lecture Theatre, AD2-010, UL.