A new LEAF in laboratory sustainability at the university
The University of Reading provides invaluable teaching and research through our on-campus laboratories. The nature of laboratory work is very carbon-intensive and, as a result, the universities’ science-based buildings represent 25% of total energy consumption and produce 20% of total day-to-day waste (by weight) .
In order to support all relevant departments with creating a more sustainable laboratory culture, we are now participating in the Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF). LEAF is an online assessment tool to aid improvements in the sustainability and efficiency of both research and teaching laboratories and is already being used by over 70 global institutions.
We are pleased to announce that the first Bronze Award, has been awarded to Dr Stephen Elmore of the Food and Nutritional Sciences Department! Congratulations to Stephen and his team for their efforts – we hope that it is the first of many.
What is LEAF?
LEAF is a framework providing a set of criteria to improve and maintain efficiency in all areas of laboratory operations. Participants first earn Bronze, then Silver and ultimately Gold standards for completing each band of criteria, while making considerable savings in their carbon production and financial costs.
The LEAF platform also provides insightful data via the online calculator to estimate the environmental and economic savings, set future targets and tangibly demonstrate the impact that your laboratory is having. The criteria can also support with the environmental impact of research and related travel. The scheme is user-led and allows access to expert resources such as technical guides, case studies and further supporting documents.
Achieving the Bronze Award
When asked why he wanted to participate in LEAF, Dr Elmore said: “As I am a member of the School Sustainability Group and also a Laboratory Manager, I was asked by Kate Fletcher (Chair of the Sustainability Group) if I would volunteer to be the first Laboratory Manager to apply for LEAF accreditation. As I consider sustainability important, as well as the associated financial benefits obtained by running a sustainable laboratory, I was happy to take part in the process.”
The LEAF Award is being supported by Technical Services, who are providing resources, expertise and assessment to support laboratories.
Describing his experience of the award, Dr Elmore said: “The process was quite straightforward, particularly with the help I received from Andy Whittam (Technical Manager – Operations), Olga Khutoryanskaya (Technical Manager – Chemistry) and Scott. I’m looking forward to applying for the Silver Award.”
What are the benefits?
- Environmental sustainability accreditation through a nationally recognised scheme
- Reduces utility costs and environmental footprint (averaging £3,700 and 2.9 tCO2e per annum per laboratory)
- Supports health and safety compliance within laboratories
- Enables more efficient research
- Improves chances of gaining additional research funding
- Contributes to a bottom-up sustainability movement
- Enables inter-laboratory and inter-departmental benchmarking
- Provides practical learning that improves professional skills and employability
- Strengthens relationships between technicians, researchers, and other stakeholders
- Aligns all participant laboratories with the University’s Net Zero Carbon Plan
How do I sign up?
The LEAF programme at the University of Reading is being administered by Scott O’Brien (email@example.com). Anyone who is interested can contact Scott directly via email and he or a member of his team will set you up on the online LEAF tool and send you a link with your login credentials so that you can get started.
For further general information about LEAF you can access their website here.