UNSW is highly commended in Australasian sustainability awards

The Green Gown Awards Australasia recognise sustainability excellence in tertiary education.

| 10 Nov 2023

The UNSW Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF) program was Highly Commended in the Creating Impact award in Melbourne this month. This category recognises the achievement of significant sustainability-related outcomes, on campus or within the university community, using minimal resources. 

“UNSW Sydney is proud to be the first Australasian university to achieve the globally recognised LEAF accreditation for our labs, showcasing our devotion to reducing research-related environmental effects,” says Professor Attila Brungs, UNSW Vice-Chancellor and President.

“While being highly commended in this award acknowledges our devotion to curbing research-related environmental impacts, vital to achieving our net-zero goal, it more importantly highlights the criticality of this endeavour. For us, part of our role [as a global university] is to demonstrate what is possible.” 

The Green Gown Awards received a record number of submissions this year. Being Highly Commended is testament to the University’s commitment to leading in sustainable change. UNSW was one of five finalists from 22 institutions that applied for a Green Gown award.

Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework

UNSW LEAF is a laboratory sustainability accreditation and engagement program, highlighted as a key initiative in the Environmental Sustainability Plan 2022–2024. It is an internationally accepted standard developed by University College London (UCL) to improve the sustainability and efficiency of laboratories.

Laboratory staff and students use its online assessment tool to identify and implement actions to reduce the use of single-use plastics, water, energy and other resources. LEAF is used across more than 15 countries and 90 institutions, making it one of the largest green lab accreditations globally.

Following a pilot program in 2021, UNSW’s lab participation has grown from five to more than 50 teams across UNSW EngineeringUNSW Medicine & Health and UNSW Science, as well as the Children’s Cancer InstituteRNA Institute and ANFF.

Laboratories are provided with a range of resources and tools to support their journey towards sustainability. These include UNSW-specific guides on sustainable lab practices, guidance on achieving accreditation, grants to implement lab specific sustainability initiatives and impact calculators that provide estimations on emission reductions, water and financial savings.

UNSW Estate Management has set an ambitious target to support the first laboratory in Australia achieving Gold accreditation later this year.