Awards27 January 2023

Labs awarded Gold tier on 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.

The SMI Hub labs had already gained the Bronze LEAF level in the last assessment, having looked at energy use, efficient use of equipment, waste streams and improving continuity within the lab. Changes already implemented included recycling materials from lab spaces, and reducing energy use through for example, switching off equipment when not in use.

Over the last year, the lab teams critically examined 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 indeed beyond the Hub itself, and we’re really pleased to announce that the labs have now been awarded a Gold LEAF award.

Some of the changes implemented include:

  • Reducing water usage by using recirculating options such as chillers or fish-pumps, and waterless condensers.
  • Improving lab recycling by introducing paper recycling bin and a dedicated bin for clear, flexible plastic
  • Consolidating and centralising high throughput consumables (e.g. bin bags, gloves)
  • Providing lab users with a waste decision tree, to ensure waste is being disposed of in the correct, safe and most sustainable way
  • Mandatory sustainability induction as part of the lab induction process for new users

Christina Picken and the SMI Hub 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 during the assessment. In the walk-around, Christina highlighted where in the lab they have made progress since the last assessment.

Chloe Loveless, Senior Experimental Officer said:

Christina has been amazing at spearheading the lab’s sustainability efforts, and the Silver and Gold LEAF awards, which are truly a result of her continued hard work and enthusiasm.”













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Poppy Robinson

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