The Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF) is designed to help users address and improve their sustainability practices.

A lab’s environmental impact can be 3-10 times more than that of a traditional office. Not only do labs use more energy, but they also use more resources and produce more waste. To combat this, the University of Surrey is dedicated to achieving LEAF certification in all its labs.

What is LEAF

LEAF is a sustainable lab certification tool designed by over 23 universities. The framework encourages lab users to improve lab efficiency and minimise environmental impacts.

How it works

Labs across the University are encouraged to create their own teams. These teams are provided with set sustainability actions to work through to sequentially achieve Bronze, Silver or Gold. These actions not only cover the environmental impacts of labs but also personal travel and research quality.

Whilst completing LEAF, teams are supported by the University’s Sustainability Team and are also encouraged to join the Sustainable Labs teams channel (link) in order to gain access to useful resources.

Achievements are celebrated once labs have been audited. Not only can teams achieve Bronze, Silver or Gold by completing LEAF, but there are also a number of special awards including Environmental Improvement, Environmental Hero and Community Action.

Who can take part

The scheme is aimed at academic groups or teams who work within a lab. Non-academic and academic staff (including PhD students) can organise their own teams, ensuring flexibility for those wanting to get involved with LEAF. For example, a team may include all staff from a research group, all staff in a lab, or technical staff working in labs. LEAF isn’t designed for whole-buildings so team sizes should cover a lab or suite of labs.

Although teams are organised by staff members, there are also opportunities for students to get involved too. Students studying STEM subjects are encouraged to volunteer as LEAF change-makers, supporting labs to complete the set criteria. Students can also volunteer to audit teams once they’ve completed the criteria. Find out more about sustainable student engagement opportunities.

Benefits of taking part

There are many benefits to taking part in LEAF:

  • Reduces utility costs providing the opportunity for direct savings through financial incentive schemes.
  • Provides recognition for individual labs on a national stage.
  • Provides the chance to gain additional research funding.
  • Improves student experience via volunteering opportunities as Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Volunteers (LEAVs).
  • Increases research efficiency.
  • Integrates different labs and departments providing a community.
  • Practice-based learning experiences, improving professional skills and employability.
  • Aligns with our commitment to the Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • Strengthens relationships between Estates, lab users and other stakeholders.
  • Enables a bottom-up sustainability movement.
  • Inter-lab and inter-departmental benchmarking.
  • Selling point for prospective students.
  • Ensures health and safety compliance within all lab.

Want to get involved?

The University of Surrey are looking for staff and students to take part in LEAF.