Social Responsibility and Sustainability


Laboratories are critical sites for the University mission of creating knowledge and enhancing our position as one of the world’s leading research universities, making a sustainable contribution to Scotland, the UK and the world.

The University is an internationally recognised centre for a wide range of research. Each discipline requires specific equipment, facilities, staff, materials, and often specially engineered buildings. All of this can be extremely consuming in terms of finances and energy.

Andrew ArnottProjects Coordinator (Labs)

Laboratories have a large carbon and environmental footprint, with especially high energy consumption as well as use of finite materials and production of hazardous waste. To improve sustainability there is a need for working across departments in order to have the greatest impact.

Laboratories are important sites for influencing the attitudes and behaviour of the staff and students who work and study in them, as behaviour changes can have substantial impacts in the short term and may be adopted as standard practice in future years.

Lab Awards

Sustainability Awards winners 2017 labs
The University of Edinburgh's Sustainability Awards have recognised the specialised nature of research facilities by offering a specific version of the awards tailored just for them.

Technician Commitment

Technicians are key players and key contacts for addressing social responsibility and sustainability issues in labs.

Sustainable Campus Fund

The Sustainable Campus Fund is an internal investment vehicle that provides financing to parties within the University for implementing energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other sustainability projects that generate cost savings.

The £2.75m fund is delivered by the Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability in partnership with Estates.

Anyone at the University – staff and students – can propose projects for the fund. Once a project is proposed, we advise and support the development of the project before submitting it to the Utilities Working Group for approval.

Projects are assessed based upon five criteria, including their payback period and how much carbon they will save.

Read about how the fund helped buy more efficient drying ovens Apply for the fund

Sustainable Laboratories Steering Group

This committee provides expert guidance, directs the expanding remit of work associated with sustainable laboratories and links the sustainable laboratories agenda with University-wide strategic plans and objectives to ensure a coordinated approach.

Find out more about the group

Sustainable procurement

The University of Edinburgh is working on identifying potential social and environmental impacts of its supply chains, throughout the lifecycle of products and services it procures, from the stage of extracting raw materials all the way up to disposal.

Find out about lab equipment supply chains

Waste reduction

The University offers advice on how to dispose of items in the safest and most sustainable way.

Advice on how to dispose of any item How to dispose of lab items

Sustainable lab infrastructure and equipment

The University has a set of guidelines and policies for addressing some of the most energy-intensive pieces of equipment and infrastructure in labs.

Sustainable Lab Ventilation Policy Sustainable Cold Storage