1point5 labs, towards reducing the impact of scientific research activities on the environment

Changed on 15/11/2022
In March 2022, Inria joined Labos 1point5. This collective, made up of members from the academic world, aims to unite and support the entire French research community in reducing its environmental footprint.
@Unsplash / photo Angela Benito


Created in March 2019 at the initiative of Tamara Ben-Ari (Inrae) and Olivier Berné (CNRS), Labos 1point5 is a collective that brings together women and men from the academic world, regardless of their status, from a wide variety of disciplines and research institutions and organizations, spread across the country.

Its objective is to involve the entire French research community in a transformation process focused on reducing its environmental footprint. This approach is accessible to all research personnel, since each of them can join the collective by committing to give at least 5% of their time, for a minimum period of one year.

To do this, the collective has structured its activities in two parts: a research group (GDR) and independent teams (a reflection team and a seminar).

A research group to better understand and reduce the carbon footprint of research activities

The first activity of the research group is to analyze and reduce the carbon footprint of research in France. Directed by Tamara Ben Ari with a team of ten scientists and a scientific committee of five personalities from renowned organizations (High Council for Climate, CNRS, ADEME and Inserm), its mission is to analyze the carbon footprint of research in terms of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and to support the transition of research laboratories to more virtuous practices.

To date, Labos 1point5 has more than 250 members, 500 laboratories involved in estimating their GHG footprint and more than 3,500 subscribers to the newsletter.

The work of the research group is based on two axes: footprint and transition.

  • Footprint" axis: Estimating and analyzing the carbon footprint of research laboratories in France

The Empreinte team is developing GES 1point5, a free open source tool that allows laboratories to autonomously carry out a GHG assessment of their activities, including data on heating and electricity, home-work travel, professional travel, purchases, digital equipment and vehicles. In a second phase, the GHG balances calculated by this tool will make it possible to analyze the emissions of French research as a whole and for the first time on a national scale. "The idea is to analyze the GHG balances of research laboratories in France in order to compare them and understand the typology of GHG emissions. With this understanding, we will be able to discuss relevant reduction scenarios for each category of laboratory," says Céline Serrano, in charge of the network of laboratories in transition.

Work is continuing on the integration of a reduction scenario tool, the estimation of the footprint of research infrastructures, environmental impacts and life cycle analysis (LCA) and local surveys to better understand the constraints of a laboratory in its ecosystem.

  • Transition" axis: Accompanying and facilitating the transition in research laboratories.

The general objective is to explore the various mechanisms (awareness-raising, financial tools such as quotas or taxes, incentives or coercive measures) for reducing GHG emissions in laboratories and the conditions for their implementation. To this end, the 1point5 kit describes the proposed systems and the various implementation options with an initial test phase involving a sample of pilot laboratories.

The next step in this work is to monitor and support this group of laboratories over a long period of time and to deploy this approach on a larger scale.

To complete this overview of the work of the research group, the "teaching" team focuses on the production of educational material to teach the ecological transition. It is developing educational materials related to environmental crises and transitions, with the objective of raising awareness, or helping to raise awareness, of these issues. These tools are, for the moment, dedicated only to higher education and are intended to open, thereafter, to secondary education.

The "communication & technique" team gathers all the activities that allow the internal and external communication of the research group Labos 1point5. This team allows the smooth running of the collective by relying on free, ethical, decentralized and supportive digital tools. Labos 1point5 days are also organized in order to take stock of the work carried out within the research group. The last one took place on June 1, 2022 at Sorbonne University (Paris).

In parallel to the research group, the "reflection" team's mission is to bring to life and articulate a fundamental reflection and to organize debates within the collective and beyond.

More generally, this team produces texts and reports on topics related to the ecological transition in research and teaching.

At the intersection between the research group and the reflection team, Labos 1point5 organizes monthly seminars and online (more than a hundred participants) organized by thematic cycles. Since 2021, several cycles have been organized: "Decarbonizing in 2050", "Technology and sobriety", "Transmission" and "Ethics and responsibility". All of them are accessible in replay on the Labos 1point5 website.

A profound change in research practices

In 2023, Labos 1point5 will launch the network of laboratories in transition. Open to all laboratories in France that want to commit to transforming their research practices to reduce GHG emissions, the network will enable them to share best practices, obstacles and possible solutions.

Labos 1point5's objective is to make its 1point5 GHG tool available to all French laboratories, but also to create a community of laboratories committed to a transition process. "We are working to create a network of laboratories committed to reducing their carbon footprint, a community that needs to share difficulties, best practices and levers. In the longer term, we would like to see this approach infuse other areas of the company's activity. We are also working to establish international links, in particular with institutions in Switzerland and North America, which are very active in this area," explains Céline Serrano.

Inria member of the collective, through the research group

Since March 2022, Inria has been part of the Labos 1point5 research group alongside CNRS and INRAE.

A commitment that allows the institute to strengthen its involvement in topics related to the ecological transition. This approach was initiated in October 2019 with the publication of the MakeSens report by Inria researchers, reflecting an awareness of the need to act on major environmental issues (in terms of research and carbon footprint). This first step was quickly followed by the implementation of the Institute's "Environment Plan" in December 2020, which includes 24 proactive measures to reduce its environmental footprint.

From now on, Inria's integration into Labos 1point5 will enable it to maintain the momentum created to achieve visible and significant operational results in terms of reducing its environmental footprint. The Institute's role in the collective consists mainly of encouraging and facilitating the integration of Inria's research centers into the network of laboratories in transition, but also of participating in the dissemination of the theme of frugal digital technology through training, awareness-raising and research originating from the Institute that can be applied in other organizations.  Inria's commitment to the collective is also reflected in the provision of a full-time research engineer. Labos 1point5 faces challenges such as scaling up the approach it has taken and maintaining the momentum it has created, to which Inria will actively contribute.

To date, a dozen Inria researchers are already involved in Labos 1point5.