UNSW lab groups celebrate international accreditation for sustainability

Teams across UNSW receive awards through the Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework.

| 24 Nov 2023

The Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF) is an internationally recognised accreditation developed by University College London (UCL) that helps build a culture of sustainability through engagement and collaboration in labs. Laboratory staff and students use its online self-assessment tool to identify and implement actions to save plastics, water, energy and other resources. 

UNSW Environmental Sustainability hosted the LEAF Awards Ceremony on Tuesday 21 November to mark the achievements of labs across the University. 45 UNSW labs have now received LEAF accreditation, with 33 Bronze Awards, 11 Silver Awards and the first Gold Award in Australasia (up from 14 Bronze and four Silver Awards last year).  

The Provost, Scientia Professor Vlado Perkovic congratulated the teams on their achievements. “Our LEAF accreditations demonstrate UNSW’s commitment to leading in sustainability across the sector,” Prof. Perkovic said.    

“Each of us has the power to amplify our real-world impact. By becoming ambassadors of the program – by sharing our achievements, inspiring colleagues, encouraging other labs to join – together we can help shape a more sustainable future.” 

Bronze Awards
Recipients of the Bronze Award at this year's award ceremony.

It's estimated labs are responsible for around 2 per cent of global plastic waste and use 3-10 times more energy per square metre than a typical office. The LEAF program aims to reduce carbon emissions and other environmental impacts, supporting research quality. 

LEAF’s online calculators allow you to measure the financial and emissions impacts of your lab operations. These calculations help labs identify opportunities and make data-driven decisions to improve their sustainability. 

“It’s fantastic to see LEAF grow for the third year in a row. More than 50 teams are now saving greenhouse gas emissions, water and single-use plastics and building a culture of sustainable practice through LEAF,” said William Syddall, Head of Environmental Sustainability at UNSW.  

“We calculate that those teams account for approximately a quarter of lab spaces at UNSW. We challenge other UNSW lab teams to become part of the LEAF community in 2024.” 

LEAF is used across more than 15 countries and 90 institutions, making it one of the largest green lab accreditations globally. UNSW was the first institution in Australasia to receive LEAF accreditation through our pilot program in 2021. 

Over the past two years, our participating labs have grown from five to 52 across UNSW Engineering, UNSW Medicine & Health, UNSW Science and UNSW Art, Design & Architecture as well as the Children’s Cancer Institute and the RNA Institute.  

The UNSW LEAF program is a key initiative under UNSW’s Environmental Sustainability Plan 2022-24. If you would like to participate and help improve the sustainability and efficiency in your lab, visit LEAF at UNSW or register here. You can also contact LEAFlabs@unsw.edu.au for more information. 

Silver Awards
Recipients of the Silver Award at this year's award ceremony.