Bristol Be-LEAFs in Sustainable Science

Over a fifth of lab space from the University of Bristol participated in the Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF) 2019, saving an estimated 92 tonnes of carbon.

The University of Bristol has a strong track record of sustainability action and became the first university to declare a 'Climate Emergency' in April. With sustainability high on the agenda, there is increasing pressure to demonstrate our commitment to reducing the university’s environmental impact and meet our 2030 carbon neutrality pledge.

A significant proportion of the university’s carbon emissions come from energy-usage, with laboratories accounting for 40% of energy consumption despite only taking up 6% of total space. Everyday lab equipment can have huge energy costs, for example, a standard -80°C freezer alone, can use as much energy as a small house (~20 kWh/day). Reducing the environmental impact of energy-intensive labs therefore plays a pivotal role in our carbon strategy.

The Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF) is a new programme that provides a defined sustainability standard to help laboratories reduce their environmental impact. As well as improving laboratory sustainability, LEAF also aims to be incorporated into research grants to promote the funding of greener research.

This year, LEAF was piloted nationally and received over 100 submissions from 16 universities. Across the UK, lab users are estimated to have saved a total of £400,000 through reducing energy, waste, consumables and equipment costs. The scheme was also met with a positive response from the scientific community: three quarters of LEAF participants reported that it drove new improvements and 98% said they would take-part in the programme again. 

32 teams from the University of Bristol participated in LEAF 2019, saving an impressive 92 tonnes of carbon, enough to fill 18 hot air balloons! Over a fifth of Bristol’s total lab space gained LEAF accreditation with five teams achieving gold, six achieving silver, and twenty-one achieving bronze. In addition, Bristol’s Biomedical Sciences Building, gained 100% Green Lab Accreditation for the second year running, upholding its title as the UKs largest, green accredited research building. 

As scientists, it is important that we are at the forefront of sustainable practices and set an example for the community and our students to follow. LEAF will play a fundamental role in enabling us to meet our climate targets. We encourage our STEM colleagues to help us build on this year’s success and sign-up for LEAF 2020.

Find out more about the LEAF National Pilot 2019 and the benefits the scheme can offer your lab.

LEAF Accreditation 2019

Find out which labs gained LEAF Accreditation 2019.

Join LEAF

Sign-up for LEAF 2020.

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