Green Lab Certification
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. Bristol participates in LEAF, an innovative Green Lab Certification tool designed by UCL that facilitates and drives 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 business travel and research quality, addressing the international issues surrounding the 'reproducibility crisis'. 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.
For 2020, the University has set an ambition of achieving institutional Green Labs Certification in 100% of our STEMed labs. This will help us to move closer towards becoming a net carbon-neutral campus by 2030 and follows the University’s declaration of a climate emergency. If we achieve 100% Green Lab Certification, we will be the first university in the world to do so.
After signing-up, the Green Labs Team will send teams the LEAF 2020 framework.
Benefits of gaining a Green Lab Certification
- 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. Green Lab Certification 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 leader 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.
Green Lab Certification closes on the 13th November 2020, however, we strongly encourage teams to submit workbooks before September so that we have sufficient time to process and complete audits. Green Labs are offering teams the option to complete audits virtually or in-person. Contact your LEAF Project Officer to arrange your audit.
After the audits, teams will be presented with their bronze, silver or gold awards along with certification badges for display outside the laboratory.
Find out more about the LEAF National Pilot 2019 and the benefits the scheme can offer your lab.
Green Lab Certification 2020 applications are now open. Sign-up here.
For more information see our LEAF brochure (PDF, 947kB).
Find out which labs gained Green Lab Certification in 2019.
For more on LEAF
Biomedical Sciences Building Awarded 100% LEAF Accreditation - Green Labs website
Bristol Be-LEAFs in Sustainable Science - Green Labs website
Introducing LEAF (Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework) - University of Bristol newsletter
LEAF – Lab Efficiency Assessment Framework - Sustainability Exchange
How efficient labs could progress sustainability and excellence in research - Science & Engineering South
Students can volunteer to conduct lab assessments and audits to help our staff gain Green Lab Certification.
LEAF is about teamwork, but you can also join our Green Labs Network individually.