Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF)

Sign up to LEAF 2020

Labs have a greater environmental impact than offices by at least five times. They use more resources, produce more waste, and consume more energy and water. LEAF is an innovative new tool designed to facilitate and drive improvements in laboratory efficiency. Users complete a set of criteria to sequentially achieve a Bronze, Silver or Gold standard, and in the process see their carbon and financial savings as they progress.

The LEAF national pilot took place last year, involving over 16 national Higher Education Institutions, including Bristol. The criteria have been specially selected to cover not just environmental aspects (e.g. waste management, procurement, equipment efficiency, chemical management etc.) but also to target research quality, addressing the international issues surrounding the 'reproducibility crisis'. Unlike Green Impact Labs from previous years, LEAF also includes metrics, enabling us to quantify 'actual' environmental and financial savings. The pilot institutions are collaborating with the research councils and funding bodies to aim for inclusion in research grants. 

After signing-up, Green Labs will send teams the LEAF 2020 framework.

View the LEAF 2019 framework

Benefits of taking part in LEAF

  • Reduces utility costs and environmental footprint
  • Provides the opportunity for direct savings through our financial incentive schemes
  • Ensures health and safety compliance within labs
  • Increases research efficiency 
  • Provides recognition for individual labs and the University on a national stage
  • Enables a bottom-up sustainability movement 
  • Integrates different labs and departments
  • Practice-based learning experiences that improve professional skills and employability
  • Strengthens relationships between Estates, lab users and other stakeholders
  • Aligns your research with the University strategy and Bristol Futures
  • Provides chances of gaining additional research funding
  • Improves student experience via volunteering opportunities as Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Volunteers (LEAVs)
  • A selling point for prospective students
  • Inter-lab and inter-departmental benchmarking
  • Creates a better understanding within our community of our science buildings and operations
  • Aligns with our commitment to the Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Who can take part?

The scheme is aimed at academic groups or teams of employees. Staff (or PhD students) can organise their own teams and it’s very flexible in terms of what a team is. For example, a team might include all staff in 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 a suite of labs. 

Ideally, we will have a range of teams representing the University from across the different schools, including both academic and non-academic staff. Anyone can act as the staff team lead and they are responsible for completing and submitting the workbook of evidence to show what has been achieved. There can be a number of staff team leads and it is important to remember you can recruit students to help you!

How it works

The LEAF teams are given a list of environmental activities in the form of an online workbook broken down into Bronze, Silver and Gold categories to complete. Each activity is a clear, easy to implement action. There are also a number of special awards; the categories for these are: Environmental Improvement, Environmental Hero, Innovation for Engagement and Community Action. Throughout the project, support will be provided by the Sustainable Science Manager and other members of staff from the University’s Estates Department.

The project also involves our students by enabling them to become volunteers with special environmental auditing training. Once trained the students then visit LEAF teams to ensure that the activities have been completed to the recommended standard. Involving students in this way provides both training and practical experience in environmental auditing. Teams can also be audited by staff from the Estates department, or by peer assessment as alternatives if they wish.

LEAF closes in November 2020 but teams can submit workbooks and complete audits at any point during the year. After the audits, teams will be presented with their bronze, silver or gold awards along with accreditation badges for display outside the laboratory.

Sign up to next year's challenge by filling in the sign-up form. For any questions please contact the Green Labs Team

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

Applications Open

LEAF 2020 applications are now open. Sign-up here.

For more information see our LEAF brochure (PDF, 947kB)

LEAF Accredited Labs

Find out which labs gained LEAF Accreditation 2019.

Volunteer with LEAF

Students can volunteer to conduct lab assessments and audits to help our staff gain Green Lab Accreditation. 

Green Labs Network

LEAF is about teamwork, but you can also join our Green Labs Network individually.

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. Follow the link to read more.

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