Labs’ carbon savings will turn a new leaf for University
17 May 2023
Scientists carrying out vital research in the laboratories at the University of Reading are helping the world in more ways than one after pledging to cut the carbon emissions that come from their work.
The Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF) has been implemented by the Technical Services’ staff as a programme that helps scientists make their carbon-intensive work more environmentally-friendly.
Following a successful pilot run of the scheme, ten of Reading’s laboratories achieved ‘Bronze’ status by May 2023, meaning they have made adaptations that could see them save around 2.9 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. Another 30 laboratories are set to achieve this goal in the next six weeks.
Marta O’Brien, LEAF project manager at the University of Reading, said: “Labs in our science-based buildings are responsible for a quarter of the University’s total energy consumption so we cannot afford to ignore their impact any longer.
“Our scientists can make a substantial difference with minor changes like turning off equipment when it is not in use and reassessing their waste management and purchasing practices.
“Cutting down on carbon does not mean sacrificing the quality of our world-leading research. We will continue to make important new discoveries while consciously making our labs greener.”
Partnering for the planet
The LEAF programme is being introduced to all lab users across the University of Reading’s campuses, which means more than 300 spaces can be potentially affected. In addition to energy savings, it is expected the scheme will improve recycling rates, reduce waste, and could save the University approximately £3,700 per lab per year.
LEAF was set up by University College London (UCL) and the University of Reading took part in the scheme’s Pilot in 2022. Its first successful Bronze accreditation was given to Dr Stephen Elmore’s laboratory in the Food and Nutritional Sciences Department.
Whilst the University continues its LEAF accreditation programme, they are also supporting Royal Berkshire NHS Trust colleagues based in the Harborne building. This collaborative project involves the NHS team taking part in the LEAF Clinical Laboratory Pilot programme, where 6 Histopathology laboratories have applied for Bronze accreditation with support from the UoR Technical Services’ team. This collaboration was made possible through support from the Health Innovation Partnership (HIP) and funding obtained from the Collaborative Innovation Fund (CIF).