News8 December 2021

Labs awarded Bronze tier from the University of Manchester’s LEAF platform

LEAF (Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework) is a sector-wide framework containing a set of criteria aimed at improving the sustainability and efficiency of research and teaching laboratory spaces. Such spaces include typical wet laboratories, science teaching spaces, and IT research laboratories. Teams taking part work to improve the environmental performance of their laboratory throughout the year. This is done by working through clear and easy to implement environmental actions in the LEAF platform, categorised into Bronze, Silver and Gold tiers.

Crucially, LEAF seeks to produce comparable data on efficiency and sustainability, through the use of in-tool calculators, thus allowing quantifiable baselines, targets, and measures to be developed. Calculations are completed by team members before and after participating.

With the SMI Hub labs only recently operational, the team joined the framework at the lower bronze tier. To be awarded this tier, the hub had to look at energy use, efficient use of equipment, waste streams and improving continuity within the lab. Changes implemented so far are:

  • Recycling materials from lab spaces
  • Reducing energy use through for example, switching off equipment when not in use and setting time to sleep on monitors
  • Ensuring the team is using and maintaining kit appropriately
  • Identifying areas for improvement – water use and increasing reuse and recycling in the labs.

Christina Picken and the SMIH Sustainability Team led the project, submitting justification for all the prompts given and walking a member of the University of Manchester Sustainability team through the lab for the assessment. In the walk-around, Christina highlighted where in the lab we’ve made progress, what we’ve considered and what is still to do. This year the SMIH Labs were awarded Bronze and will be aiming for the Gold tier at our review in November 2022 – for which the areas identified for improvement will be key.

Over the next year, the SMI Hub lab teams will be critically examining their consumables to reduce the amount of items sent to waste – looking at lowering waste, increasing recycling and take back schemes, and sharing the message of sustainability beyond the lab and beyond the Hub itself.

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