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Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF)

Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF)


LEAF is a sustainable lab certification program that has been recently launched as a pilot study at Queen's University, exploring ways in which 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.


The LEAF labs within Queen’s have been given a list of environmental activities on an online 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 an 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.


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


There are numerous benefits from labs being involved in the LEAF Program. 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

Assessment Criteria

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:

  • Waste
  • People
  • Purchasing
  • Equipment
  • IT
  • Sample and Chemical Management
  • Research Quality
  • Teaching Criteria
  • Ventilation
  • Water
Irish Green Labs Network Launch

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.

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