Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF)

LEAF - Join the sustainable lab movement


The Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF), is an internationally recognised green lab accreditation that aims to improve environmental outcomes and build a culture of sustainable practice in laboratories around the world. LEAF is hosted on an online platform developed by University College London.

LEAF has quickly become one of the largest green lab accreditations globally, used in over 95 institutions across 15 countries.


In 2021, five laboratories in the Faculty of Science became the first in Australasia to receive LEAF accreditation. Following the success of a pilot program, a university-wide rollout of LEAF took place in 2022. Laboratory groups joined from across Engineering, Science, Medicine & Health, as well as partners like the Children’s Cancer Institute and the RNA Institute. At the end of 2022,18 labs had achieved LEAF accreditation. 

In 2023 the UNSW LEAF program grew to a record 52 registered teams. In total, UNSW labs have received 42 Bronze Awards, 13 Silver Awards and the first Gold Award in Australasia. LEAF teams achieved significant savings in greenhouse gas emissions, waste, water, laboratory expenses, and single-use plastics usage.

How does it work?

Once registered, LEAF teams gain access to an online platform where they work through a list of achievable actions that reduce the environmental impact of their lab. Including action on single-use plastic, reducing resource-intensive processes, and improving waste management. To assist in implementing these actions, teams receive support from the EM Environmental Sustainability team. We provide sustainability resources, training workshops, one-on-one coaching and funding through the LEAF lab grants initiative

When teams are ready, they submit an accreditation request. An institute administrator reviews the submission and provides feedback. If the LEAF team meets award requirements, they will receive a certificate denoting their accreditation level. Laboratories progress through the award levels Bronze, Silver and Gold. Generally completing one level per year.

Using in-software emission calculators, LEAF produces comparable and quantifiable data on efficiency and sustainability. This enables baselines, targets and measures to be developed for each unique lab. Equipment and behaviour data is recorded in the calculators by team members before and after participation, allowing users to see the real-world impact of their hard work.

Where to start?

Taking part in LEAF is easy: 

  1. Register an account on the LEAF website.
  2. Follow the instructions on the LEAF platform guide to set up a team and get started.

Once registered, you will begin receiving information about LEAF and updates on lab sustainability initiatives. If you are unable to register for LEAF at this time, consider subscribing to the LEAF labs emailing list, by emailing

Contact Liam Foster Constable (Laboratory Sustainability Coordinator) at with any questions.

More information

Laboratories are extremely energy and resource intensive facilities. Laboratories typically consume up to 10x more energy and 4x more water than equivalent office spaces. It has been estimated that approximately 2% of the world’s plastic waste originates from life science labs alone.

It can be easy to believe that research is inherently wasteful and resource intensive. However huge savings can be achieved through simple behaviour and process changes. Studies have shown that most labs can reduce their energy consumption by 30-50% without changing their existing technology and infrastructure.

UNSW has over 75,000 square meters or laboratory space and the total environmental impact of these laboratories is significant. UNSW is committed to making science more sustainable in our research & teaching laboratories by supporting a University-wide LEAF program.

On average, LEAF teams reduce emissions by 3 tonnes per team. To date, the UNSW LEAF program has stopped an estimated 640 tonnes of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere.

Introducing LEAF in your lab can have significant financial benefits. A UCL study found that LEAF labs saved on average $7500 per year due to their more efficient resource use, energy savings and decreased waste production.

Registered LEAF groups report improved communication and efficiency, as well as increased staff/student morale and engagement. Increasingly, people value being in a workplace that considers its environmental impact. 

Safety improvements are an often-unexpected benefit associated with lab sustainability.  Sustainability initiatives that target fume cupboard efficiency, chemical management and waste separation align closely with safety objectives.

Finally, institutes like UK Research and Innovation have committed to incorporating sustainability criteria into their future grant and funding decisions. Becoming LEAF accredited is a good way to future proof your labs funding streams in anticipation of these industry changes. 

Anyone working in any type of laboratory or workshop at UNSW can organise a team to take part in the program. LEAF is applicable to dry labs, wet labs and teaching labs. Your team can cover a research group within a laboratory, a whole laboratory or a group of laboratories. If your lab is affiliated with UNSW in any way, you can register a team. The only requirement is a UNSW zID number. 

  • How many people can represent a lab in LEAF?

Your LEAF team can be as big as you want! However we recommend having one or two contacts responsible for data entry in the platform. Once your LEAF contacts are registered online, they can download and share the LEAF criteria with the entire team.


  • I don’t have a wet lab – is this tool appropriate?

Yes, dry labs and other workshops are more than welcome! We previously trialed LEAF in dry labs at UNSW and found that the LEAF toolkit is suitable for computer labs and workspaces. Several actions relate to managing large equipment like high-performance computing systems and monitors, as well as actions related to flexible working arrangements for dry labs to cut down on the carbon emissions from the morning commute. Please give it a go, we would love to receive your feedback!


  • The criteria are not relevant to me… what should I do?

You may find that not all the framework’s criteria relate to your work. This is okay! Briefly explaining why the criteria is not relevant to your lab is often enough to receive accreditation. We also encourage you to find alternative initiatives that are relevant to your space. You can add new actions under “Step 3, Open Initiatives”. If you think of new or improved criteria, please let us know! The program is intentionally flexible to allow all lab user to participate.


  • How does LEAF align with Health and Safety measures?

LEAF aligns with UNSW’s commitment to health and safety. One of the benefits of LEAF is that it is developed by researchers, clinicians, industry users and technicians to align with the best health, safety and biosecurity measures. The LEAF criteria are carefully selected and have been tested and implemented in more than 95 institutions worldwide in over 15 countries. LEAF actions also have relevant UNSW safety guidelines and procedures identified in the toolkit, and we will continue to work with the Health and Safety team to ensure LEAF reflects the latest measures.

Please feel free to check the guidelines and if you still have any concerns, please contact us at or raise the issue in the Teams Channel. We will ensure your concerns are addressed and may be able to find another sustainable alternative to the action.


  • Some of these changes need resources, and I can’t commit them. What should I do?

We do not expect any laboratory group to commit resources to addressing LEAF criteria and we do not want the (un)availability of resources to affect your ability to complete LEAF. If you have any concerns about resources required to complete LEAF, please raise it by contacting We do not expect you to make any cost-bearing changes. Please contact us and we will find a solution.


  • How long will it take to implement LEAF in my lab?

This varies based on the size of the lab and how it is set up. LEAF has been designed to minimise administration, whilst maximising action. Surveyed labs have indicated that they spent approximately 1-5 hours working on LEAF in their first year.


  • How can the EM Environmental Sustainability team support me?

The EM Environmental Sustainability team will support your team throughout the LEAF process. You decide how to organise your team and what style of communication works best for you. We provide toolkits, learning resources, training, presentations and financial support through our LEAF Lab Grants initiative.


LEAF champions are staff and students who are familiar with the LEAF program and are passionate about making their faculty more sustainable. Contact them if you have questions or ideas about LEAF and would like to talk to someone within your own faculty.

If you would like to be added as a LEAF champion, please email us at

LEAF Coordinator 

Name Department
Liam Foster Constable <> Estate Management 


Name School
Martin Peeks <> Chemistry
Jordan Vink <> Biotechnology & Biomolecular Science (BABS)
Mira van der Ley <> Biological, Earth & Environmental Science (BEES)


Name School
Yuyan Yu <> Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering
Pujith Vijayaratnam <> Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering

Medicine and Health 

Name School
Simone Leckey <> Children's Cancer Institute
Anouschka Akerman <> Kirby Institute
Team registrations Feb - August
Welcome back morning tea March
LEAF Q&A sessions/ presentations All year (on request)
LEAF lab grants proposal deadline June 30th
Lab swap day Mid July
Criteria submission deadline September 30th
Auditing and feedback October - December
LEAF Award ceremony November

For more information or event details contact 

LEAF teams award status