Sustainable Labs Programme

The Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF) is an innovative scheme to drive improvements in laboratory efficiency 

LEAF is our sustainable labs accreditation programme on campus. It provides a framework for lab users to consider their working practices and improve their environmental performance. The scheme recognises all the great things you are already doing and provides a structure for planning your next steps. It covers energy use, equipment, space use, ventilation, procurement, waste, samples and chemicals. 

Why laboratories and workshops? 

The University has committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions for scope 1 and 2 by 2030, and for scope 3 by 2045. For us to achieve this we need to consider how we operate in all spaces across the University, including labs and workshops. 

Laboratories and workshops are high resource use spaces which are estimated to use 

  • Three and ten times more energy than offices 
  • Four times more water than offices

 Source: My Green Lab 

How does LEAF work? 

LEAF helps you identify practical steps to make your lab more sustainable. It is usually done in teams. Participants complete a set of criteria to reach Bronze, Silver or Gold standard in turn, and can estimate the carbon and financial savings their actions have achieved. 

The LEAF programme comprises the following: 

  1. The Framework (online): This consists of actions relating to waste, travel, energy, water, procurement, and research quality. Each action is supported by a rationale as well as evidenced guidance to help implement it. 
  1. Calculators (online): These tools enable lab users to estimate the current sustainability performance of their lab and track improvements as they implement changes. 
  1. Toolkit and Resources: To support and optimise the implementation of LEAF, a toolkit of materials will be developed including technical guides, procedural guides, inductions, and further resources.  
  1. User Engagement & Training: To help initiate your LEAF programme, we offer each institution a tailored workshop to engage laboratory staff and students on sustainable science, and to introduce LEAF. 

  Students using our lab space

How to get involved 

We are piloting the scheme with seven labs in Applied Sciences during the 2021/22 academic year. We will open the scheme to more schemes from August 2022. If you would like to find out more our sign up to join the scheme in the next round, please register your interest with the Sustainability Team at or speak to the Technical team in your department. 

Teams are organised by themselves and can be based in laboratories or workshops and anyone can initiate and lead a team. LEAF teams can cover a research group within a lab, a whole lab or a group of labs. Once you have registered you will be supported by your local Technical team and the Sustainability Team to complete the programme. 

Resources for current participants