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Exeter laboratories gain LEAF status

More than 80% of eligible laboratories and research spaces at the University of Exeter have now been assessed via the Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF).

Published 11th November 2021

Of the 61 laboratory units identified as suitable for the framework, 51 have achieved bronze status – and of these, seven have progressed to silver and two have gold.

The rest are working towards LEAF status, and the University is aiming for all eligible spaces to achieve this by the end of the year.

The LEAF programme, created by University College London, aims to help labs become more efficient – reducing costs, waste and carbon emissions.

This is important because laboratories are naturally significant consumers of energy, water and plastic materials.

“Exeter’s rapid progress on LEAF status is a testament to the hard work of our lab managers and technicians in particular,” said Professor Neil Gow, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Impact).

“It also reflects teamwork and collaboration among both staff and students who use our labs.

“Sustainability is vitally important in every aspect of our work, and I am looking forward to seeing continued progress in our labs and beyond.”

After the Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) on the Penryn Campus piloted use of the framework, LEAF was officially launched at the University of Exeter in February this year, and labs on seven sites across four campuses in Devon and Cornwall began the application process.

Lab spaces must first apply for bronze status, which is achieved by implementing basic sustainability measures, such as having appropriate recycling facilities, ensuring cold storage is regularly cleaned and maintained, and placing signage to encourage users to switch off equipment when not in use.

Lab units can then upgrade to silver or gold by further increasing their sustainability measures.

The lab units which currently hold gold status are the ESI and the Biosciences Teaching Lab on the Streatham Campus.

Applications are handled by local “LEAF champions” for each lab unit, whose expertise allows them to propose sustainability measures while ensuring top-quality research can still take place.

The University has created a lab sustainability website to provide information about LEAF and showcase the progress being made in labs across the Exeter and Cornwall campuses.

Lab units are defined by groups of laboratories under shared technical services cover, management, or spaces used by an academic group.