Technicians lead the way in sustainable labs
Many of us will have heard about Green Impact (GI) and I know quite a few of you who have participated in the Labs GI over the past seven years.
I hope that your experience has been as beneficial to your lab as I have found in mine! But this article is not to preach to the converted, only to say that if you have participated, keep it up and please keep reading, there are some changes you need to know about.
This article is for those who have considered joining Labs GI but have not taken it any further, and for every University technician at any grade who would like to make a positive difference and doesn't know how to go about it.
As we know, labs can have huge impacts in terms of energy consumption, resource use and waste generation. They use on average three to five times more energy than other academic buildings and accumulate chemicals and equipment that may be of use in neighbouring facilities.
Last academic year, nine teams covering a number of labs were involved in the GI. By increasing sustainable practices in more labs, imagine the difference we can make in the next seven years! And it doesnt have to be major initiatives; last years newcomer, Cohen Laboratories in the School of Earth and Environment, is a prime example of how a team can build on the success of other labs through the sharing of good practices and utilising the framework to meet their own objectives. By the summer the team had created a system to allow the reuse of plastic sample bottles and updated their purchasing strategy to reduce waste.
To help to encourage more labs to participate, the workbook has been given a much needed refresh! Gone are the tick-box criteria, now replaced with ambitious topics, such as energy, 'purchasing and communications and networking to accommodate a larger breadth of sustainability in lab environments. Shackles are off in terms of what criteria you can do too - none are mandatory or optional - you simply complete as many as possible.
For teams already setting an example by achieving the highest award possible, Platinum and Platinum Plus awards are now available, with Platinum Plus focusing around mentoring new and existing teams.
Around the University, there are unique operations within labs and workshops that the workbook might not take into account, but its important to recognise the actions that improve sustainability. A new spreadsheet added to the workbook now allows teams to collate up to five additional sustainability actions of their own.
With over 500 labs at Leeds, this is a great opportunity to make a huge impact on increasing positive sustainable activities. Take a look at the updated GI labs guide book and the Sustainability Service website for more information. To join the scheme or for more information, e-mail Becky Ewan at R.M.Ewan@leeds.ac.uk
(Laboratory Manager / Environment Programmes Technician Lead - SEE)