LEAF - A New Standard for Sustainable and Efficient Science

Martin Farley, UCL/KCL/Green Lab Associates

LEAF is a tool which has been developed by UCL Sustainability, and has been piloted in 17 UK research institutions in 2018-19. It stands for Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework. It contains criteria surrounding improving the sustainability and efficiency of laboratories. Within this presentation, we look to share the outcomes of the piloting of this tool.

LEAF stands out in several ways. First, it can quantify impacts based on actual actions in both dollars and tonnes of carbon reduced. This allows users to better understand and focus their efforts at laboratory sustainability. Secondly, LEAF contains criteria which truly integrate sustainability, research quality, and laboratory practices. Criteria are progressive, and include content to improve research integrity. This has been done in recognition that research which is not reproducible is unsustainable (waste of resources and effort), and that good-practice steps can improve reproducibility.

This presentation will contain both quantitative (financial savings, carbon reduced, participants) and qualitative feedback (outcomes, ease of use, impact, etc.). UK funding bodies have been engaged to support LEAF, with the aim of providing a means for funding sustainable science and conditions in grant funding. To conclude the talk, next steps and direction will be shared.

Universities participating include Cambridge, UCL, King's College London, Imperial, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Swansea, The Crick Institute, Manchester, and more.

More on LEAF may be found here:

More available on request.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn about the outputs and outcome of a new standard being piloted in the UK, and how it differentiates itself from previous standards;
  • Assess if a similar mechanism for achieving standard good practice could be applied to US facilities;
  • Learn about how the UK is addressing sustainability beyond building standards, with a focus on improving the relation of scientists and their surroundings; and
  • Consider if current standards in place are driving systemic improvements via grant funding, or if there are lessons to be shared from each other's best practice.


Martin Farley has been working on Sustainable Laboratories in the UK for the past 6 years. He was the first full-time green lab professional in the UK, and initiated programmes at the UoEdinburgh, King's College London, UCL, and more. He was recognised as Sustainability Professional of the Year by a Green Gown awards for pioneering the field. Today he works through his consultancy Green Lab Associates predominantly with UCL.


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