University of Bristol's laboratories receive green status

21st July 2021

The University of Bristol has become the first university in the world to achieve institutional Green Labs Certification.

Each of their 990 laboratories have gained certification, through The Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF) Programme which mobilised staff and students and the wider STEM community to consider the direct impact of research, rather than the broader benefits of research outputs. 

Laboratories are essential workspaces for science research and learning but they have five times more environmental impact compared to office spaces. At the University of Bristol, laboratories occupy only 6% of the university’s space but account for 40% of the energy usage. LEAF reduces the environmental impact of laboratories by promoting actions that save water, plastic, energy and other resources through better waste management, equipment efficiency, chemical management and procurement. In addition to criteria that cover environmental aspects, there are also those that consider business travel and research quality, addressing important issues around what’s known as the ‘reproducibility crisis’. 

Anna Lewis, Sustainable Science Manager at the University of Bristol, said:

The university is very proud to announce that it has achieved its goal of institutional Green Lab certification and has certified 100% of its STEM laboratories. It has been no easy endeavour, but we are delighted by this accomplishment. 
Following the Climate Emergency declaration in 2019, sustainability has been at the forefront of the university’s agenda. 
In total, 990 lab spaces were certified which covers an area of approximately 37,000m2. This would not have been possible without close collaboration with technical staff and lab users so we would like to express our most sincere gratitude for their efforts. Demonstrating our Technician’s Commitment, LEAF illustrates the skill and dedication of our technical staff who coordinated the initiative within each of their Schools.”

The innovative Green Lab certification tool was developed by University College London (UCL) to improve the sustainability and efficiency of laboratories. LEAF plays an important role in supporting the university’s commitment to net-zero by 2030 by reducing carbon emissions associated with laboratory-based activities.  

LEAF 2021, an updated version of the LEAF certification, has recently been launched and staff plan to utilise it to continue reducing the environmental impact of laboratories going forward.

More information is available here.

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