In 2021-22, we awarded Imperial's first Gold certificate for sustainable lab practice. Teams made use of the sustainability guidance in the LEAF Workbook to address energy efficiency, waste management, sharing resources and ensuring that good induction and leaving procedures were in place. Read more about our gold award here.Six Silver certificates awarded to Imperial laboratories for energy efficiency

Research groups and facilities from seven departments across Imperial took part in the national LEAF scheme in 2019–20.

Despite the challenges presented by the coronavirus lockdown, many teams managed to submit calculations on the savings accrued from their LEAF actions: typically £1,000–£10,000 per year for each group. Improved management of fume cupboards, freezers and waste led to the highest savings and reduced the environmental impact of research. The results were impressive – our laboratories were awarded six silver and 15 bronze LEAF certificates.

What is LEAF?

The Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF) is an environmental accreditation scheme designed to improve sustainability within higher education teaching and research. The aim of the project is to reduce carbon footprints and improve sustainability of individual labs, whilst also reducing costs.

The framework enables individual lab managers (academic staff, technical staff, teaching lab. managers) from all departments to quantify their environmental and financial impact. The LEAF programme comprises the following:

  • Participating labs are given a list of environmental actions on an online platform broken down into Bronze, Silver and Gold categories to complete. Each action within the categories is clear and easy to implement.
  • The categories include waste, travel, energy, water, procurement, and research quality. Each action is supported by a rationale as well as evidenced guidance to help implement it.
  • Carbon calculators are included within the online toolkit enabling labs to estimate the current sustainability performance of their lab and track improvements as they implement changes.
  • Labs can decide on bronze, silver or gold level award and have the opportunity in the following year to improve (if required).
  • This is a great opportunity to collaboratively work and share best practices with other labs, universities and research institutions.
  • The College Estates Operations team can help support with LEAF.

How can I get involved?

Participating labs are asked to complete an online workbook that enables them to assess how individual items contribute to their carbon footprint in a thorough, wide-ranging, and organised manner.

To get involved, please email <> to receive the LEAF user guide to help you create an account via the online portal and provide a step-by-step guide on how to register your lab.