Research laboratories are energy-intensive spaces; typically consuming 5 to 10 times more energy per square foot than an office or classroom. Researchers can reduce the energy consumption in their laboratories by engaging in energy-saving initiatives recommended by the Green Labs program. By making small changes in our laboratories, we can help offset UGA’s energy usage and reduce the environmental footprint of our research.
As researchers, we need our equipment to be ready for use precisely at the moment we need it, so we often leave certain benchtop equipment, such as water baths, running 24/7. Using timers on qualifying benchtop equipment allows it to be powered down at the end of the day and restarted in the early morning, assuring it will be ready for use on time, and also saving energy in the process.
The UGA Green Labs program has a limited quantity of benchtop timers to provide to UGA laboratories with qualifying equipment. Please reach out if your lab is interested at email@example.com.
Biosafety cabinets can use around 15 kWh/day, which is about half as much as an American household. You can save energy and increase your filter’s lifespan by turning off the blowers in your biosafety cabinet when it is not in use.
Effective and efficient laboratory ventilation systems require a balancing act—especially in older buildings that have been remodeled or retrofitted with new laboratory equipment. These systems are designed to be used with your laboratory door closed. By keeping your lab door(s) closed, you are allowing your lab’s ventilation system to function as intended; improving air quality, achieving desired air changes per hour, and ensuring maximum efficiency. Keeping your lab door closed is not only a best practice and requirement of your lab safety manual but also has the potential to save energy and money.
Laboratory drying ovens are often left on when they are not in use. For smaller ovens, this can be offset by putting your oven on a timer. It can power down at night and restart in the early morning, thus ensuring it will be at temperature by the time it is needed. For larger ovens that aren’t safe to put on a timer, researchers can help reduce energy usage by simply turning it off manually between uses. Lowering the temperature also results in energy savings and is an easy practice to achieve for labs drying samples or glassware.
Please ensure timers are approved for the wattage of your equipment. If you need help to determine this, please reach out to the UGA Green Labs program at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fume hoods are one of the most energy-intensive pieces of equipment in a laboratory, using the same amount of energy each year as 3.5 American households. They provide the critical service of removing hazardous chemical vapors from our research areas, thus improving laboratory air quality. They can be operated in a more sustainable manner by simply shutting the sash when not in use. This simple act of shutting the sash can save up to 40% energy for variable air volume (VAV) fume hoods and will also improve laboratory safety.
The UGA Green Labs program provides Shut The Sash stickers to help integrate this practice into your research space. If your fume hoods need stickers, please reach out to email@example.com
Ultra-low freezers, or “minus 80s”, are one of the most energy-intensive types of equipment found in research labs. These units have significant operating costs which can be reduced by raising the set temperature from -80° C to -70° C. For many units, this can reduce energy use by 30% or more.
Most samples stored in ultra-lows do not require -80° C, and studies have shown that DNA samples are stable with little or no denaturing when stored at temperatures as high as -20° C over 24 months. As the move to colder freezers was prompted by the refrigeration industry and not driven by a scientific need, we are often able to “temperature tune” our ultra-low freezers by raising the temperature to save energy and money, while also protecting our vital samples. Raising the temperature of your freezer will also prolong the life of your equipment.
Check to see if your samples can safely be stored at -70° at freezerchallenge.org.
Additionally, it is of utmost importance to provide routine maintenance for your lab’s freezers. By checking the freezer door seals and defrosting your unit regularly, you can save energy, get rid of temperature pockets caused by ice build-up, and better protect your samples.
The UGA Green Labs program has a limited supply of freezer defrost kits to provide to qualifying UGA labs. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if your lab is interested.