Sustainable UCL


Why does science need LEAF?

What is the sustainability challenge for science, and how can LEAF help?

Laboratory based research is fundamental to addressing global challenges, from the climate emergency to pandemics. However, with the growing urgency to mitigate our impact on the natural environment, we must also recognise the significant environmental impacts of laboratory-based research.

What is the sustainability impact of science?

Laboratories are resource intensive; utilising significant amounts of energy and water to run equipment and maintain environmental conditions (a typical lab will consume 3-10 times more energy per m2 than standard office spaces). Unlike with Health & Safety regulations, there is a lack of standards in place providing simple guidance on how to make labs more environmentally sustainable.

LEAF is an easy way to make your science more sustainable

LEAF has been developed to address this lack of standards. It is user-friendly with low administration, ensuring there is enough time for the science at hand.

View Nature's article citing LEAF: What can you do to make your lab greener?

View the carbon and financial savings from LEAF's pilot

Before making LEAF widely available, we piloted LEAF for 2 years with 23 other universities and research institutes in 2018-2020. 235 Lab Groups took part saving:

Infographic of results from pilot stating that in 2018-202 23 research institutions from the UK took part in LEAF's pilot, each lab saved £3,700 with a total saving of £641k, and 648tCO2e

99% of those surveyed said they would use LEAF again.

View the wider results here: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/sustainable/staff/labs/how-much-carbon-can-you-save

LEAF supports reproducible science

LEAF is supported by the UKRN (UK reproducibility network). This is in recognition that high-quality research is sustainable research – Ensuring that studies are reproducible and that we make use of the data we generate is a sustainability challenge as well as one for science. UKRN provides an annual review of the actions within LEAF which relate to research quality.

Reproducible science and sustainable science are intimately linked. More robust research will ensure we make progress more efficiently and less wastefully. UKRN is proud to support LEAF, which provides researchers and laboratories with the tools to improve the efficiency and quality of their work. - Marcus Munafò, Professor of Biological Psychology, University of Bristol, UKRN Lead

LEAF helps you to measure your impact

LEAF’s calculators enable users to estimate their impacts immediately, and its supporting resources provide the technical expertise to take meaningful action.

LEAF is user-driven and non-profit

Crucially, LEAF is user-driven and non-profit – users are encouraged to feedback on how the programme may be improved. No manufacturers, suppliers, or commercial entities have input in LEAF’s contents, process, or materials.

As funders are taking action in driving sustainability into science, and institutions work towards impressive carbon targets, we hope LEAF can serve as a means of getting us where we need to be a bit quicker!

Further reading on green labs

Find a Green Lab network:

Advice to make your lab greener:

Other green lab programmes from around the world: