An independent standard specialized on improving energy efficiency and sustainability in laboratories has awarded The Marine Biological Association LEAF accreditation – the first granted to a marine biology institute in the UK.

The Marine Biological Association (MBA) has earned two bronze LEAFs (Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework) in recognition of staff commitment to reduce waste and increase energy efficiency in laboratories.

The Cell and Molecular and the Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) laboratories which specialize in studying microscopic ocean lifeforms have achieved bronze for their efficient waste management and energy consumption.

Laboratory Efficiency Intern Oscar Speed said: “I am proud to say that both the CPR and Cell & Molecular labs have been fully committed to studying the sustainability of their current practices and improving them towards this accreditation. We are determined not to rest on our laurels, however, and between us are committed to furthering our sustainability efforts, whilst maintaining the world-leading scientific standard our reputation here has set.”

The Continuous Plankton Recorder Survey (CPR) is the longest running and most geographically extensive marine survey in the world. This year (2021) marked the 90th year of CPR data. 

The CPR laboratory processes plankton collected from fine silk mesh within CPR mechanical units towed behind volunteer vessels. The data collected shows the spatial abundance of plankton in the ocean, which is vital understanding about the health of our ocean, and how marine life is changing response to pressures like climate change.

Microbial life has dominated the marine environment for billions of years. Microbes make our oceans work by forming and sustaining biogeochemical cycles and underpinning food webs.

Our work in the Cell and Molecular Laboratory is opening the marine microbiome ‘black box’, revealing the biology and ecology of a range of different microbial groups including viruses, bacteria, phytoplankton and fungi. 

Laboratories are essential for scientific discovery, but require large amounts of energy and materials, often making up two thirds of energy used by a university or research institute.

University College London (UCL) developed LEAF as a defined sustainability standard for laboratories by recommending actions that lab users can take to reduce waste, energy, plastics and water in the lab.

UCL Sustainable Laboratory Advisor Martin Farley, said: “It’s fantastic to see LEAF applied in the first chartered marine institution; The Marine Biological Association (MBA). We hope this paves the way for more labs within the MBA, but also more specialist institutions which are just commencing their journey to improve the sustainability of their laboratories.”

The MBA will now work towards silver LEAF accreditation for Cell and Molecular and CPR laboratories and bronze for the Ecology Laboratory.

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Nov 23, 2021 By nerblo