LEAF - A new approach to sustainability in laboratories at UNSW
The Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF), is an internationally recognised standard for sustainable laboratory operations that helps build a culture of sustainability with improved engagement and collaboration in laboratories around the world. The LEAF framework is hosted on an online software platform developed by the University College London to improve sustainability in laboratories.
LEAF has quickly spread in the higher education sector and is now used across 12 countries and 70 institutions including Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial, University of Exeter, and many more.
LEAF pilot at UNSW
In 2021, five laboratories in the Faculty of Science at UNSW became the first in Australasia to receive LEAF accreditation as part of the UNSW LEAF pilot program. Following the success of the pilot, Estate Management decided to expand the program to the entire University.
In 2022, the LEAF program will run from July to December with registration now open. The LEAF certificate will include the year it was awarded and depending on the needs of the laboratory, re-certification can be sought every one to three years.
How does it work?
LEAF involves laboratory groups making small, achievable actions to cut down their environmental impact. These can include action on single-use plastic, reducing energy-intensive processes, better management of waste, and saving water.
When laboratory groups are ready, they can submit an accreditation request for an Institution Administrator to review and, if the group is eligible, the system will generate a certificate noting the accreditation level. Participating laboratories can progress through the levels from Bronze, through Silver to Gold, or directly apply to the level of their choice.
By using the in-tool calculators, LEAF produces comparable and quantifiable data on efficiency and sustainability, enabling baselines, targets, and measures to be developed. Calculators are completed by team members before and after participation.