Green Labs gets the gold

Green Labs gets the gold

Green Labs gets the gold

Key points:

  • Babraham Institute joined the SOS-UK Green Impact programme for environmental and social responsibility, enacting a wide range of sustainability actions. 
  • Across the Babraham Research Campus, participants took over 500 actions collectively to become a more sustainable workplace. 
  • Participants will re-enrol, and be joined by others, in a second cycle of the programme to build further on these achievements.

The Institute is delighted to receive a Gold Award from SOS-UK Green Impact. This award recognises sustained efforts from the Green Labs team who are working to reduce the environmental impact of the Institute. The programme provides a framework of possible actions, spanning both the labs and wider workplace, and accreditation and awards upon their completion. The Institute completed 74 environmental actions this year to achieve a Gold award.

Dr Jo Durgan, the Green Labs steering group chair said: “For Green Impact, we pulled together all the existing good environmental practice at the Institute, alongside implementing important, new sustainability actions. It's been a great team effort from the Green Labs group and many others across the Institute. We're really happy to have received a Gold award and feel motivated to continue working towards more sustainable science. Big thanks to everyone involved and congratulations to all the companies who participated with us!”

The Green Labs team started with a solid foundation of existing activities at the Institute including comprehensive recycling and composting schemes and a trigeneration system for energy efficiency. New activities included tackling ultralow freezer efficiency through racking and ‘chilling up’ (shifting temperature from -80 to -70), and addressing single use plastic in the lab by implementing recycling for the ~45,000 media bottles used each year.

As well as tackling sustainability in the labs, the team considered the broader impacts of our organisation. Researchers travelling to conferences are encouraged to limit flights, choosing alternative transport where reasonable, and the Institute provides a mechanism for carbon offsetting the unavoidable. Other actions included encouraging public transport use by providing free or subsidised bus passes, and advocating for fossil fuel divestment.

More details of their actions can be found on the Green Labs page. The Green Labs team also share their learnings with others through talks, workshops, blogs and their Twitter account.

Members of the Green Labs team receive their Gold award
Members of the Green Labs team receive their Gold award

An auditor said: “Too often we see greenwashing and ambiguous promises made by companies in the pursuit of appearing ‘Green’. But with the Babraham Institute we can see genuine efforts that seek to make a legitimate difference in the world. Well done!”

A key success of the project has been the community involvement, with nine campus companies enrolling in the Green Impact programme alongside the Institute and collectively taking over 500 actions. In the wider community, campus volunteers supported planting of the Babraham Forest Garden, made up of native species, the forest will provide an essential habitat for insects and animals. Green Labs also support the Babraham Primary School Eco Squad and publish blogs on sustainable actions we can take in our personal lives too.

At the Green Impact Awards ceremony, everyone involved across the Campus was invited to hear talks from Professor Hugh Montgomery OBE (UCL), Dr Jo Durgan (Babraham Institute), Grace Corn (SOS-UK) and Amina Deji-Logunlekoo (University of Dundee). In his talk, “A Climate of Fear”, Professor Montgomery reiterated the importance of acting now as we freefall into the climate crisis for the sake of the next generation. With visuals demonstrating the scarcity of usable water, global droughts and fires, the audience were left with little doubt that doing our part is the only option. As the slate plaques were awarded, teams shared their reflections on the past year and hopes for their ongoing initiatives; a common theme was the sense of achievement, and the feeling of real impact by working together. 

The next cycle of Green Impact will launch this Autumn, with existing participants joined by at least 3 additional campus companies. This emerging cross-campus network will build on last year’s achievements, striving for further environmental action and sustainable science. 


Press contact

Honor Pollard, Communications Officer,

Image description: A frosted and defrosted freezer, showing how a small change can make a big difference to energy efficiency. 

Green labs steering group members:

Chair: Jo Durgan

Matt Antrobus

Adrian Bath

Neil Brew

Bobbie Claxton

Simon Cook

Anne Corcoran

Joshua Davey

Juliet Emery

Michael Hinton

Jon Houseley

Marian Jones Evans

Adrian Liston

Like Mercer

Michael Norden

Fergus Powell

Simon Rudge

Priya Schoenfelder

Helen Seekings-Denham

Olly Stokoe

Simon Walker

About the Babraham Institute

The Babraham Institute undertakes world-class life sciences research to generate new knowledge of biological mechanisms underpinning ageing, development and the maintenance of health. Our research focuses on cellular signalling, gene regulation and the impact of epigenetic regulation at different stages of life. By determining how the body reacts to dietary and environmental stimuli and manages microbial and viral interactions, we aim to improve wellbeing and support healthier ageing. The Institute is strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, through Institute Strategic Programme Grants and an Institute Core Capability Grant and also receives funding from other UK research councils, charitable foundations, the EU and medical charities.


The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.

BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Funded by government, BBSRC invested £451 million in world-class bioscience in 2019-20. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.