A woman in a lab coat looks into a microscope with a light blue gradient overlaid and the Sustainable Labs Program symbol in the corner

Sustainable Lab Certification

Sustainable Lab Certification

The Sustainable Lab Certification is a transparent, self-reporting tool developed by the Office of Sustainability to help the hundreds of lab users at McGill assess and improve the sustainability of their operations.

About the Sustainable Lab Certification

Compared to other spaces on campus, labs consume vast amounts of materials, rely on energy-intensive equipment, and generate disproportionately large amounts of waste. Due to the nature of the work being done, there is also a heightened need for safety, financial efficiency, and precision in labs.

The Sustainable Lab Certification offers the McGill lab community guidance as they seek to reduce the environmental impacts of their work without compromising lab safety or teaching and research excellence.

The Certification is divided into eight categories that target a range of actions lab users can take to make their operations more sustainable. For more information about the categories and how to tackle their related actions, consult the McGill Sustainable Labs Guide.

  1. Community building  

Actions that build and strengthen a culture of sustainability in your lab.

  2. Waste management

Actions that reduce lab-generated waste and improve waste recycling in your lab.

  3. Energy conservation

Actions that increase your lab’s energy efficiency, conserve energy, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

  4. Water conservation

Actions that conserve water in your lab and reduce the amount of water wasted.

  5. Procurement and asset management

Actions that support the purchase of sustainable goods and services and minimize unnecessary consumption.

  6. Green chemistry

Actions that reduce the use of harmful chemicals in your lab and promote the use of safer alternatives.

  7. Animal research

Actions that reduce the environmental footprint of vivarium and improve animal and human health.

  8. Travel and fieldwork

Actions to make travel and fieldwork more efficient and reduce its environmental impacts.

Labs receive a certification level derived from the percentage points earned for completed questions. The four levels of certification are Bronze (50-69% of points), Silver (70-79% of points), Gold (80-89% of points), and Platinum (90-100% of points).

Get the Sustainable Lab Certification

  1. Download the certification assessment
  2. Answer all the questions for Categories 1 to 5. If relevant to your lab work, you should also answer the questions for Categories 6, 7 and/or 8.
  3. Submit your completed Sustainable Lab Certification Assessment along with your team photo.
  4. Receive your certification!

Email labs.sustainability [at] mcgill.ca for any questions or to learn more.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Why should I participate?

The Sustainable Lab Certification is an opportunity for all McGill lab users – from graduate students to principal investigators to lab managers – to compare their habits and knowledge with best practices for sustainable lab operations.

Completing the certification assessment provides a baseline to help lab teams identify where improvements are needed and track their progress over time. This can make it easier to determine what types of resources and support lab teams need from the University to meet their sustainability goals.

Additionally, the Sustainable Lab Certification serves as a point of entry for researchers looking to join a community of McGill lab users interested in sustainable practices.

Who can be part of the certification progress?

The Sustainable Lab Certification is open to all labs at McGill University and its research institutes. All members of a lab are encouraged to participate in the process, including undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, principal investigators, lab managers, and research assistants.

Lab teams are welcome to complete the assessment as a group, for example, during a lab meeting. However, one person should be designated the Sustainable Lab Lead to ensure the assessment is properly completed and submitted, and to serve as a point of contact with the Office of Sustainability.

How long is the certification valid?

A Sustainable Lab Certification is valid for two years. During this time, Sustainable Lab Leads should help ensure their team continues to follow the practices documented in their assessment. It is recommended to review existing sustainability standards with new and returning lab members at the beginning of each academic year.

After two years, labs must submit an updated assessment and team photo to maintain their certification.

How often can I resubmit a certification?

In addition to submitting an updated assessment every two years to maintain their certification, labs can attempt to boost their certification level once every six months. The purpose of this delay is to give teams sufficient time to implement changes and allow them to become habits.

Back to top