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Success for the Dunn School at the 2022 Vice Chancellor’s Environmental Sustainability Awards

Dame Professor Louise Richardson hosted the 2022 Vice Chancellor’s Environmental Sustainability Awards, attended by staff and students from across the University of Oxford. The awards recognise and celebrate contributions towards the environmental goals of the University.

35 labs/facilities across the Dunn School were awarded LEAF status – with 9 receiving Gold, 16 receiving Silver and 10 receiving Bronze (listed in full here). LEAF (Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework) is a laboratory sustainability standard that encourages labs to reduce their carbon emissions by reducing use of single-use plastics, water and energy whilst maintaining high-quality research standards. Using the LEAF framework, individual labs/facilities self-assess and aim for Bronze/Silver/Gold status depending on the changes implemented. It is estimated that a single lab can save on average £3700 and approximately 3 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year, which across the University would make a significant contribution to the target of net zero by 2035.

Recognising the efforts of the Dunn School Green Group in this sphere, the team won the 2022 LEAF Champion Award at a ceremony that took place in the Sheldonian Theatre on the 13th of July. The Dunn School Green Group has been active since 2020 and promotes participation in the LEAF framework in order to make the Dunn School more environmentally friendly and sustainable. Thanks to the efforts of the Green Group, it is estimated that the Dunn School LEAF labs will save 100 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

In addition to the joint award, some members of the Green Group received personal recognition. Jo peel, executive assistant to the head of department at the Dunn School was nominated for “helping to raise the profile of the Green Group” and organising great initiatives such as the monthly Bike Doctor. Lilli Hahan, a PhD student in the Carvalho lab was nominated for playing an “active role in promoting environmental sustainability” and helping to recycle lab gloves and masks. Dr Saroj Saurya, lab manager in the Raff Lab and the and chair of the Dunn School Green Group received several award nominations for her sheer enthusiasm in the pursuit of an environmentally friendly Raff lab, the Dunn School and the University of Oxford.  All Green Group members (past and present) are volunteers and are very passionate about doing what they can in the lab and at home to prevent climate change.

On receiving the 2022 LEAF Champion Award on behalf of the Dunn School Green Group, Saroj thanked previous chairs Anton van der Merwe and Ulrike (Ulli) Gruneberg, Dunn School Green group members, facilities, labs, members, the University of Oxford environment sustainability team and the LEAF creator Martin Farley. In her speech, Saroj said: “We could see quite early on that we can make a lot of impact in the department and other labs around the world. We gradually started exploring other fields of environmental sustainability and maintaining a good atmosphere… We reduced waste, saved money, and encouraged others to try as well”.

Written by Isabella Maudlin (Murphy lab) @BellaMaudlin