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SuDSlab UK

A Living Lab for Sustainable Drainage 

When approaches to urban drainage design incorporate natural water management practices to deal with excess surface water while assimilating water quality, biodiversity and amenity features, this is referred to as Sustainable Drainage Systems or SuDS.

SuDS are by no means a new concept, societies have been implementing sustainable water management initiatives since antiquity.


Most days we give little thought to water in our urban environments. Yet only by managing surface water effectively can we avoid the devastation of widespread flooding when drainage systems are overwhelmed by heavy rainfall. In this way, SuDS have a vital role to play in helping society adapt to the consequences of climate change which is expected to bring more frequent heavy rainstorm events.

Our challenges are:

  • to encourage awareness of how water can be managed sustainably in our towns and cities and to educate people about water management and sustainability,
  • to understand better how sustainable drainage systems can be made more efficient at slowing and filtering surface water,
  • to optimise SuDS for different rainfall conditions and maximise their benefit for the wider catchment,
  • provide examples that demonstrate how citizens and developers can manage water sustainably.

 Additionally, we would like to grow a greater understanding of how communities engage with and benefit from sustainable drainage infrastructure. We will explore the wider benefits of these important installations in the community and how they are perceived.

We aim to meet these challenges by adapting our whole University campus into a living laboratory for sustainable drainage: SuDSlab UK.

The Scottish Universities SuDS Monitoring Programme found that effective SuDS measures reduce peak flow surface water runoff by around 50%


The University of Hull’s attractive Cottingham Road campus includes several well-designed SuDS of different types. We are fitting sensors to these and to a range of new and innovative SuDS assets that are being installed. We are also deploying a sensor network at strategic locations right across the campus.


SuDSlab Campus Map

Download a pdf of the SuDSLab campus map 

The sensor network will gather data outputs including from ultrasonic flowmeters, depth gauges, weather stations, soil moisture, conductivity and humidity sensors. Together, these will provide information about how individual SuDS are performing as well as creating a real time picture of the hydrological status of the whole campus.

We will develop a digital dashboard to interpret and share the novel dataset generated by the SuDSlab UK sensor network.

We will also incorporate citizen science capabilities into our interactive platform that will allow us to collect data for a broad range of social outputs.

In this way, the University campus will become a Living Lab for Sustainable Drainage.

The Impact

“The SuDsLab project is demonstrating ways to create more space for accessible nature in our urban environments, whilst capturing meaningful evidence for decision makers to replicate these changes elsewhere.”

Matthew Millington
Local Nature Partnership Development Officer
East Riding of Yorkshire Council


SuDSlab UK will increase water sustainability on campus, improving flood and drought resilience and raise the profile of sustainable drainage and water in the urban environment. By establishing the University’s campus as a densely instrumented environment for water monitoring, it will also act as a pilot for wider initiatives. Further impact will arise through:



SuDSlab UK will provide a unique research tool for academic study of sustainable drainage to increase our understanding of how sustainable drainage components interact to influence the overall hydrological performance of a small catchment as well as allowing us to examine in detail the effect of soil substrates in water attenuation.


SuDSlab UK will also create opportunities for research into the social impacts of creating blue green infrastructure, giving insight into the benefits of natural flood management on the well-being of those who live, study and work nearby.


Innovation and Demonstration

We will share data from SuDSlab UK openly to help and encourage others to innovate new and better sustainable drainage solutions. We also plan to develop more testbed facilities where novel formats and substrates can be evaluated and compared, bringing sustainable drainage research into reality.

Knowledge exchange activity through programmes like the University’s £3.4m Flood Innovation Centre are engaging developers and stakeholders to inform future projects and mitigate the impacts of new developments on flood risk by designing sustainable drainage into new developments.

Education and Awareness

SuDSlab UK will support a wide range of education provision. We are incorporating new learning opportunities about sustainable drainage into our own undergraduate and postgraduate programmes such as our MSc in Flood Risk Management, as well as using SuDSlab UK as a learning tool in professional short courses for specialists.

Of course, we will also bring sustainable drainage to life for the community more widely – especially to children through a wide range of projects and opportunities to involve young people through engaging with schools and youth groups.

Next Steps

You may compare the live weather feed (above) with the data being collected through SuDSLab UK here.

We have a pipeline of over 20 SuDS concepts to keep building SuDSlab UK into the future. These include novel SuDS designs, outdoor laboratory space to conduct experiments into the features of sustainable drainage and optimal flood resilience measures as well as demonstration sites for citizens and developers to see how they can incorporate sustainable drainage into their own homes and other buildings.


Our plans for the future of the SuDSlab UK also include growing its influence in the wider community through the implementation of an innovative, interactive Blue Green Walking Trail to showcase the blue-green infrastructure on campus through an interactive app and guided walk. We plan to include augmented reality, citizen science, games and user feedback. Ultimately, with the digital application we hope to integrate our trail with other blue green initiatives in Hull and even with cities across the world.

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