Universiteit Leiden

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Leiden University encourages all its laboratories to obtain LEAF (Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework) accreditation.

LEAF logo

The Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF) is an internationally recognised accreditation programme developed by University College London (UCL). The programme’s purpose is to make laboratories more sustainable and to build a culture of sustainable practice.

Why are we participating in LEAF?

Laboratories are extremely energy- and resource-intensive: they generally use 3 to 10 times more energy and water per square metre than a typical office. Around 2% of global plastic waste comes from bioscience laboratories.

Leiden University Leiden University has a considerable number of laboratories on its campuses. They have a substantial environmental impact, so the university aims to make its labs more sustainable by participating in the LEAF programme.

LEAF is now used in 15 countries and is growing fast. With more than 95 institutions registered, it is one of the largest green lab accreditations globally.

LEAF can achieve not only carbon savings but also financial advantages, more efficient use of resources and less waste production.

How does LEAF work?

The LEAF programme requires lab groups to engage in small, feasible actions that reduce their environmental impact, such as:

  • working with less single-use plastic
  • reducing energy consumption
  • better waste management
  • saving water
A lab worker operates a piece of equipment in the laboratory
By measuring the energy consumption of devices in the lab, Tim now knows better how to reduce energy consumption.

LEAF within Leiden University

To assist with implementing sustainability actions, the lab groups are supported by a team comprising staff from Real Estate and Administration & Central Services.

Internal accreditation team

When lab groups are ready, they can submit an accreditation request, which will be assessed by an internal accreditation team. If the group has achieved the criteria, it will be awarded a certificate stating the accreditation level. Participating labs can progress through the levels from bronze, via silver to gold, or they can immediately submit a request for the level of their choice.

Emission calculators

LEAF also gives access to emission calculators that allow comparable and quantifiable data about efficiency and sustainability to be calculated. This makes it possible to develop baselines, targets and actions for each lab.

Interested in taking part?

Anyone who works in a Leiden University lab can set up a ‘green team’ for participation in the programme. LEAF can be used in ‘dry’ labs, wet labs and teaching labs. It can involve a research group within a lab, an entire lab or a group of labs.

Our experiences with LEAF up to now

In 2022 the faculties of Science and Archaeology introduced a two-year pilot in these institutes:

  • Leiden Institute of Chemistry (LIC)
  • Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research (LACDR)
  • Institute of Biology Leiden (IBL)
  • Institute of Environmental Sciences (CML)
  • Archaeological Sciences

In the first year of the pilot, six LIC and LACDR labs were awarded a bronze LEAF certificate. The aim is to expand LEAF further within the faculties and to obtain the first silver certificate in 2024.

A laboratory worker holds a time switch in her hand
Anneloes introduced time switches when she noticed that she and her colleagues still sometimes forgot to switch off devices at the end of the working day.

How to start

After you have registered, you will be assisted by the LEAF support team throughout the programme. For this, please contact the team via duurzaamheid@leidenuniv.nl

Frequently asked questions

There is no limit on the number of team members who can participate, but we recommend that only one or two contact persons are made responsible for entering data. When these LEAF contact persons have registered online, they can download the LEAF criteria and share them with the whole team.

Yes, ‘dry’ labs and other workplaces are more than welcome. Several LEAF criteria relate to the management of large equipment, such as powerful computer systems and screens, and also, for example, to flexible work arrangements with ‘dry’ lab staff to reduce the carbon emissions caused by commuting.

You may find that some of the LEAF criteria aren’t actually relevant for your work. This isn’t a problem. If you give a brief explanation of why the criteria aren’t relevant for you, this will be sufficient for obtaining LEAF certification. We also encourage you to make suggestions for new initiatives. You can add new actions as Open Initiatives, so that we can monitor these as well. Please don’t hesitate to let us know if you can think of new, improved criteria.

This depends on the size of the lab and how it is set up. LEAF has been designed to minimise administration, while maximising action. Surveyed labs have indicated that they spent around 1 to 10 hours in the first year.

No lab will be expected to make a financial investment in order to achieve the LEAF criteria. If you feel that you need funds to achieve LEAF criteria, you should make sure that the LEAF coordinator in your lab discusses this during the periodic LEAF meetings.

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