Sustainable labs

At the University of Leeds, we are committed to embedding sustainability across the whole institution. This means integrating it into education, research, and operations.

Our laboratories play a key role in this, as places of innovation and discovery. Here at Leeds we have outstanding facilities that allow research to thrive.

However, laboratory activity consumes around 5-10 times more energy per square meter than typical academic spaces. There’s a real need – and opportunity – to tackle this and reduce the negative environmental effects of laboratories on campus and beyond.

The Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework

In 2020 we are piloting LEAF (The Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework),  a new tool developed by University College London (UCL) to help researchers, staff and students understand and improve the sustainability and efficiency of their laboratories.

LEAF logo

LEAF contains criteria that lab users can implement around areas such as waste & recycling, equipment management, procurement, and more. The criteria are based on actions that have already been proven to work in other laboratories. A key feature of LEAF is that it allows you to quantify your impact in both financial and carbon savings.

LEAF is intended for anyone working in any of our labs, including NHS areas. It is ideal for technical staff, lab management, PhDs and post-docs with an interest in sustainability, or anyone working around laboratories.

If you would like to take part in the LEAF pilot or know more about it, please sign up via our form.

2019 LEAF Pilot

The first LEAF national pilot took place in 2019, involving over 16 national Higher Education Institutions. Feedback from the pilot was good with 98% of participants saying they would use LEAF again. The pilot resulted in carbon savings of 620 tonnes, the equivalent of taking 132 cars off the road.

Read more about the first LEAF national pilot in 2019.

Laboratory resource hub

We are putting together a laboratory resource hub which will have information, tools and advice to help labs become more sustainable. If you have any materials you would like to add to the hub then please get in touch at

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

We use the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework to guide our activity. Our sustainable labs work is linked to the following SDGs:

  • Goal 7: Affordable and clean energy
  • Goal 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  • Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production

Find out more about our impact on the SDGs.