NTDC and LEAF collaborate on pilot project

12 May 2021

LEAF (Laboratory Assessment Efficiency Framework)

Improving sustainability in technical areas pilot project: UCL’s LEAF and the NTDC are working with Edinburgh Napier, Liverpool, Manchester Metropolitan, Newcastle and Reading Universities.

How can we contribute to addressing the current climate and ecological emergencies?

As with most situations, emergencies and changes in regulations that affect the higher education (HE) Sector, the response tends to be ‘an individual approach’ at the local institutional level or at best within a local group of universities. We rarely start to address a situation by having a joined-up approach. This also applies to the ongoing issues surrounding the environment, sustainability and climate change.

The pressure on the sector is mounting and with the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference, COP26 scheduled for this November in Glasgow, the Government will quickly increase that pressure to reduce our carbon footprint and to achieve net-zero carbon.

A number of universities have been addressing these issues within their institution, from declaring a climate emergency to agreeing and implementing environmental sustainability strategies. This work has highlighted STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and medicine) facilities as an area of particularly high impact. Laboratories are often managed by the technical community, and being high impact areas, are an ideal setting to promote environmental successes.

By working together, this project hopes to review, support, and promote the use of UCL’s LEAF (Laboratory Assessment Efficiency Framework), an initiative to improve the sustainability and efficiency of laboratories, technical workspaces including workshops, studios and galleries.

An intended outcome of the project is to better understand the skillsets technical staff require to improve the sustainability of their operations, and how they can be better supported. Furthermore, the project will promote the visibility of the ongoing work carried out within technical sectors of universities and engage a wider range of individuals in sharing good  practice and in the gathering of hard evidence to influence both local and national policy.

An ultimate outcome would be the adoption of the framework by all universities and research institutions as a key component in the drive towards achieving the net-zero carbon targets set by the government for all UK sectors.

NTDC and UCL will work with five key universities, Edinburgh Napier, Liverpool, Manchester Metropolitan, Newcastle and Reading. The pilot will be run as a partnership between all bodies, and will be acknowledged accordingly in a final report, which will also highlight each university as a case study.

Read the rest of our spring 2021 newsletter