Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF)
LEAF: WHAT IT IS?
LEAF is a sustainable lab certification programme that was launched at Queen's University in September 2021 as a means of exploring methods to help labs across campus become more aware of their sustainability.
Created by University College London (UCL), LEAF is a set of criteria that allows labs to determine if they are following sustainable practices in their teaching and research. This includes reducing waste, sharing materials with other labs, decreasing energy usage etc.
LEAF labs within Queen’s are provided a list of environmental activities on the LEAF platform that facilitate and drive improvements in laboratory efficiency. Each activity is a clear, easy to implement action. LEAF users complete these actions in order to improve their lab efficiency. Following a peer audit of each lab, the labs will then be awarded a rating of Bronze, Silver or Gold depending on the level of sustainability reached.
LEAF Criteria have been specifically 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 uses a set of calculators to enable users to quantify 'actual' environmental and financial savings.
WHO IS INVOLVED?
The programme will aim to embed good sustainability practices within participating QUB laboratories, with a view to rolling out across all labs at the University.
The following schools are participating in the pilot:
- School of Pharmacy
- School of Medicine, Dentistry & Biomedical Science
- School of Biological Sciences
- School of Maths and Physics
- School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
BENEFITS OF GAINING A GREEN LAB CERTIFICATION
There are numerous benefits from labs being involved in the LEAF Programme. These include:
- Reduced utility costs and environmental footprint
- Ensuring health and safety compliance within labs
- Increased research efficiency
- Provides recognition for individuals labs and the University on a national stage
- Enables a bottom-up sustainability movement
- Helps integrate different labs and departments from around the University
- Practice-based learning experiences that improve professional skills and employability
- Strengthening of relationships between Estates, lab users and other stakeholders
- The chance to align your research with the University Net Zero Strategy
- Inter-lab and inter-departmental benchmarking
- Creating a better understanding within our community of our science buildings and operations
- Labs being able to align with our commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals
As part of Strategy 2030, the university has committed to embracing the Sustainable Development Goals across all our activities and to transition to a carbon neutral society. To achieve this, Queen’s University are addressing emissions in a range of areas - energy, procurement, travel, water and waste.
As members of the LEAF Programme, you will have the opportunity to align your research and teaching with the university's sustainability goals.
To support grant applications for energy efficiency equipment and funding, we have provided a Support Document to allow labs to explain how their research is helping the University's overall aim of reaching Net Zero.
Launched on Earth Day (22nd April), the Irish Green Labs (IGL) Network is a new resource for laboratory professionals on the island of Ireland to engage in conversations on sustainability and innovative green lab solutions. Queen’s University Belfast is now a member of the Irish Green Lab Network. This membership, alongside the sustainable lab certification programme LEAF, will allow labs in Queen’s to target the negative impacts that lab activities can have on the environment. The specific target climate actions included in the Irish Green Labs membership include Energy, Plastic, Chemistry and Water. This membership will help the labs at Queen's to embed the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in their research and teaching, overall aiding Queen's in becoming a more sustainable university.
Have a look at their new website here.
Bronze, Silver and Gold Criteria
Labs can achieve Bronze, Silver or Gold level depending on the level of commitment to each criteria. Target areas in the labs include:
- Sample and Chemical Management
- Research Quality
- Teaching Criteria