TU receives first LEAF certifications for sustainable laboratories

Potential zum Energiesparen nutzen


At TU Darmstadt, four working groups from the Departments of Chemistry and Biology have been awarded so-called “LEAF certificates” for more resource-efficient laboratory operations. With these quality seals, the TU is a pioneer in Hesse.

Two research groups were awarded silver and two bronze certificates. These are the research groups Sustainable Functional Polymers (Professor Nico Bruns), Structure-based Drug Research (Professor Felix Hausch) and Chemical Technology (Professor Marcus Rose) in the Department of Chemistry and the Plant Biotechnology and Metabolic Engineering research group (Professor Heribert Warzecha) in the Department of Biology.

The Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF) is an assessment tool for sustainable laboratories developed at University College London, which is already being implemented in 2900 working groups in 16 countries. It offers a three-stage assessment framework through which working groups can achieve bronze, silver or gold accreditation. LEAF has become the largest international Green Lab certification program.

To receive a LEAF seal of approval, laboratories must meet certain criteria in the areas of “waste”, “employees”, “management of samples and chemicals”, “equipment” and “exhaust air”. Work processes and laboratory organization must be designed in such a way that the operation of the laboratories is as sustainable as possible. This includes, for example, efficient waste separation, where non-contaminated recyclable materials and waste are recycled and disposable products are reduced.

Large amounts of energy can be saved in the area of exhaust air and ventilation by using fume cupboards correctly. Laboratory equipment is also put to the test: cooling units must be serviced regularly in order to run efficiently. Outdated and oversized heating appliances need to be replaced with more economical ones.

At TU Darmstadt, LEAF is organized by the Sustainable Lab Initiative of the Department of Chemistry in cooperation with the Office for Sustainability and has been implemented since 2022 as part of the joint research project “Sustainable Laboratories – Reducing Environmental Impacts and Improving Sustainability in Laboratories at German Universities (NachLabs)” funded by the German Federal Environmental Foundation. In addition, other working groups in chemistry and materials science have recently started to make their laboratories more sustainable as part of the certification process.