UNSW teams come together to celebrate sustainability in laboratories on campus

12 Dec 2022
LEAF awards

The inaugural Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF) awards were held on 1 December to recognise the efforts of our students and staff to make our laboratories more environmentally sustainable.

After a successful pilot program in UNSW Science in 2021, a University-wide rollout took place from July to December 2022. Anyone working in laboratories or workshops at UNSW was invited to take part.

LEAF is an internationally recognised standard for sustainable laboratory operations. As an online self-assessment tool, LEAF requires laboratory groups to complete sustainable actions to reduce their carbon emissions and create an environment that supports research quality. LEAF is part of the Environmental Sustainability Plan 2022-24.

William Syddall, Head of Environmental Sustainability, highlighted the benefits of LEAF to UNSW. “Lab spaces can be resource-intensive, and we thought it was important to take meaningful action in this space. LEAF teams achieved some fantastic outcomes in 2022 and we’ll be looking to increase the impact of the program next year.”

In the first year of the University-wide rollout, 22 laboratory groups joined the program with participants from across Engineering, Science, Medicine & Health, as well as the Children’s Cancer Institute and the RNA Institute.

These groups are striving to reduce the environmental footprint of their research through improved administration, efficient equipment and material use as well as appropriate waste management, and the results are showing. LEAF teams achieved a significant decrease in single-use plastics, carbon emissions and financial expenditure.

At the awards ceremony, 18 labs achieved LEAF accreditation, with 14 Bronze Awards and 4 Silver Awards.

UNSW Provost, Professor Anne Simmons presented the awards to LEAF teams.

Prof. Simmons recognised the achievements of the laboratory groups and Estate Management. “Our active involvement on the world stage is so important in showing our leadership in the area of environmental sustainability. It is through your dedication to sustainable research practices that we will continue to make a difference.”

Congratulations to the following teams that were recognised at the event.

Silver Awards

  • Burns Laboratory – School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences
  • Ferrari Laboratory - School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences
  • Lessio Laboratory – School of Chemistry
  • Microfluidics Laboratory Group – School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering

Bronze Awards

  • Wich Lab – School of Chemical Engineering
  • Children’s Cancer Institute – School of Clinical Medicine
  • Cornsters Laboratory – School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences
  • G005 Teaching Prep Area – School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences
  • Lan Laboratory – School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences
  • Synbiote – School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences
  • Beves / Peeks Laboratory – School of Chemistry
  • Field / Ball Laboratory – School of Chemistry
  • Hunter Laboratory – School of Chemistry
  • Synthetic Teaching Laboratory 262 – School of Chemistry
  • RNA Institute – School of Chemistry
  • Smart Materials and Surfaces Laboratory – School of Chemistry
  • Decision Neuroscience Laboratory – School of Psychology
  • Nanoporous Materials Laboratory – School of Materials Science and Engineering


Estate Management will aim to expand LEAF even further in 2023 by recruiting more laboratory groups from across UNSW faculties.

If you would like to find out more about the program and how to participate, visit LEAF at UNSW.