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. 

 2.Calculators (online): These tools enable lab users to estimate the current sustainability performance of their lab and track improvements as they implement changes.

3.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.  

4.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 

In the 2021/22 academic year, 8 labs in Applied Sciences successfully piloted the scheme and achieved the Bronze LEAF award.

In the following academic year 2022/23, 10 further labs in Applied Science achieved the Bronze Leaf Award.

Currently in the Academic year 2023/24 there are now 30 labs in Applied Science which are working towards their Bronze LEAF Award. The 18 Labs which have already achieved the Bronze LEAF Award, are now progressing onto the next level of award and aiming to complete Silver Leaf Award status later in the year.

If you would like to find out more our sign up to join the scheme for future rounds, 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 

Bronze Award LEAF Accreditation

In November 2022, the first eight labs in Applied Science were presented with their Award Certificates by the Deputy Chancellor Professor Tim Thornton, for successfully completing their Bronze Award LEAF accreditation. Participating in the LEAF initiative has improved the environmental performance of these labs. The labs have taken a range of fundamental steps to help make lab facilities more sustainable - from improving their induction and exit processes, to visual reminders to save energy by switching off and closing fume cupboards.

These Labs will now progress forwards towards their Silver LEAF accreditation.

Leaf-Tim Thornton Leaf-Lab people and certificates leaf-chemistree


Bronze LEAF Award Accreditation 2022/23

In November 2023, 10 more Laboratories from Applied Sciences successfully achieved the Bronze LEAF Award. Deputy Chancellor Professor Tim Thornton presented the Lab Members with their award certificates.

All of the Bronze Award Laboratories will now be working together focusing on attaining the Silver LEAF award.