University of Exeter: Exeter lab manager wins Sustainability Champion Award

Daniela Farina, who works at the Penryn Campus in Cornwall, won the staff sustainability category.

The judges said she showed “great application” and leadership, leading to results across University of Exeter labs that can also be replicated elsewhere.

The University also had three finalists in the awards, which recognise the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities and colleges.

“Universities are leading sustainability research, but the research itself, particularly in laboratories, is a significant burden on the environment,” said Farina.

“The equipment used is energy intensive and the use of single-use plastic consumables is rampant.

“As lab manager in the Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI), I made the decision to champion lab sustainability and change the impact of labs for the better.

“Despite sustainability not being part of my role, I volunteered my time to implement the Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF) accreditation and achieved our first ever award of silver status at the ESI, which has since progressed to gold standard.

“I have also coordinated the development of the Exeter Sustainable Labs Team, providing a support network so all lab users can feel empowered to play their part and make environmentally friendly decisions.

“I am proud to say my work has made lab sustainability a priority for the University of Exeter.”

Now, more than 80% of eligible laboratories and research spaces at the University of Exeter have been assessed via the Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF).

Of the 61 laboratory units identified as suitable for the framework, 51 have achieved bronze status – and of these, seven have progressed to silver and two have gold.

Professor Lisa Roberts, Exeter’s Vice-Chancellor, said: “At the University of Exeter we aspire to create a working environment where ideas are supported and people can thrive.

“I am delighted that Daniela has won the Sustainability Champion Staff Green Gown Award.

“Not only are we world leaders in environment and climate research, but our passionate staff are leading the way to put the University on the path towards a greener, sustainable future.”

The University of Exeter was a finalist in three Green Gown categories:

– 2030 Climate Action – for the University’s “environment and climate emergency journey to net zero and beyond”. The University’s climate agenda has progressed at speed, with a new carbon roadmap setting out our plans for achieving net zero by 2050 at the very latest.

– Benefitting Society – for the Impact tool, which gives parishes and small communities data on their carbon emissions that is easy to interpret and share.

– Tomorrow’s Employees – for: “Challenges Online; developing employability by solving wicked problems.” Grand Challenges has run since 2012, with undergraduates selecting a global issue they want to address, developing their employability in the process. Challenges Online was developed in response to the Covid-19 lockdown, broadening the scheme’s reach and reducing its environmental impact.

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