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The Penryn based labs have received gold level accreditation

Penryn labs receive golden sustainability award

Labs at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus have received top level recognition for introducing and improving sustainable practice and reducing research impact on the environment.

The Environment & Sustainability Institute (ESI) labs has received gold level accreditation in the Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF) for their work to increase environmentally friendly practice and reduce their carbon footprint.

LEAF, developed by the University College London (UCL), is designed to promote best sustainable lab practice. It highlights areas where improvement is possible and guides lab users to reduce the negative impact of their lab research.

The criteria addressed by LEAF focusses on people, waste management, equipment and chemical management, and are organised in bronze, silver and gold accreditation levels.

Professor Neil Gow, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research and Impact, said: “Making our laboratories more sustainable and efficient is a key objective for us in addressing the climate emergency and maintaining research quality.

“I’m delighted that a number of our labs have now taken part in LEAF accreditation, and with the special commendation to ESI who have achieved Gold status”.

Jane Wills, Director of the Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI), at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus, said: “The ESI exists to champion sustainability in both research and action.

“There is no escaping the fact that laboratory research has a particularly large carbon footprint, and the ESI’s technical services team have been working very hard to do something about it.

“Working with our lab-based researchers, they have now managed to secure the Gold LEAF Award.

“The ESI is the first lab at the University of Exeter to reach this accreditation and I’m very grateful to everyone involved.

“This work puts us on the right path to make sure our lab research lives up to the Institute’s name. Many thanks and congratulations to everyone who was involved in this work.”

Jenny Lord from the ESI Technical Services Team said: ‘’Applying for the LEAF Gold accreditation for the ESI wet labs was a great chance to collaborate with our research groups to learn about the sustainable practises already happening and share that knowledge with the wider UoE lab community via the Exeter Sustainable Labs Teams group set up by Daniela Farina.

“One of the most significant changes we made was to reduce single use plastic in our labs was getting groups to switch to refill tip boxes for pipettes – this hugely reduced the amount of plastic waste leaving the labs.

“It’s great to have applied for gold accreditation, but this is definitely not the end of the journey. As soon as we start to spend more time in the lab again, we will be reinstating our full maintenance rota and plan to keep researching more sustainability ideas to try out in the labs.

“I’m excited to see what else we can do to improve lab sustainability in the years to come!”

To find out more about LEAF at the University of Exeter visit their website and contact the Project Manager Daniela Farina to discuss ideas.

Date: 7 May 2021