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NCEO joins Sustainable Labs programme - LEAF

The National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO) have joined the Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF) for laboratory accreditation at its headquarters site, Space Park Leicester.

The assessment framework, developed within University College London, aims to reduce the carbon impact of laboratory spaces and promote sustainable laboratory practices through the reduction of waste, energy and water usage.

About LEAF

Scientific research is vital for improving our understanding of the changing climate; however, it is also very energy intensive and uses large amounts of resources which in turn contribute to the global carbon footprint. The full carbon emissions from global scientific research are relatively unknown with the energy usage of laboratory spaces 3-10 more than regular office spaces. Current estimates are also attributing roughly 2% of global plastic waste to science laboratories

The LEAF programme aims to provide a standard in sustainable laboratory operations that can be applied to all research laboratories. The framework consists of criteria covering areas such as waste, equipment and facilities which fall into bronze, silver and gold categories. The initiative is user-led and provides tools to estimate environmental impact at the end of each assessment period.

The framework has been adopted by over 95 institutions across 15 countries and has plans to expand with the development for frameworks for commercial laboratories and digital research environments.


NCEO’s research centres around understanding and safeguarding the health of our planet. As our scientific output increases, we are working to ensure that sustainable practices are established to minimise any negative environmental impacts.

The LEAF programme is the beginning of sustainable initiatives and practices within NCEO research laboratories. The programme aligns to aims from the NCEO Environmental Sustainability policy and Sustainability Statement.

The initial bronze criteria category at Space Park Leicester will create a foundation for NCEO sustainable lab practices to build on across the centre. The ambition is to role out the programme across all NCEO labs at centre locations.

Quote from Eleanor Morton, NCEO Environmental Sustainability Coordinator

“Laboratories are an important part of NCEO’s scientific output. By implementing the LEAF programme at our headquarters, we can reduce our environmental impact from research whilst also better quantifying our research carbon footprint.”

The implementation of LEAF is being led by NCEO’s Environmental Sustainability Coordinator with collaboration from the Space Park Leicester team and University of Leicester Earth Observation Science (EOS) department. LEAF will be implemented in seven laboratories within Space Park Leicester which carry out NCEO and EOS science and is the first introduction of a sustainable laboratory framework at the University of Leicester.