With 1 in 3 people lacking access to safe drinking water globally, it is important to be good stewards of our resources and conserve water when possible. Use the tips below to reduce water usage in your research lab.
Autoclaves are steam sterilizers used for lab equipment, consumables, buffers, waste, and more. These units consume a tremendous volume of water both in the operation of a sterilization cycle, as well as in a cooling capacity. They continuously run cold water down the drain 24/7 to offset any potential hot water being discharged.
Water misers (or solenoid valves) are added to our campus autoclaves to significantly reduce the amount of water used. When a water miser fails, it fails open, thus allowing the constant flow of water to once again start pouring down the drain. It is of utmost importance that all autoclave users are trained in identifying what a failed valve sounds like and report it immediately. If you hear gurgling at the drain of your unit when a sterilization cycle is not running, that likely means your water miser needs to be replaced.
When purchasing a new autoclave, selecting research-grade units will use 81% less energy and 93% less water than traditional medical-grade autoclaves. These units are rightsized for research purposes and more cost-efficient, as well.
If you suspect your autoclave has a failed water miser or if your department needs assistance choosing the right autoclave to meet your research needs, please contact the UGA Green Labs program at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cleaning lab glass and other laboratory equipment require large amounts of water. A typical faucet uses 2-5 gallons per minute. To conserve water, use rinse buckets as a first rinse when washing dishes, and always remember to turn off the faucets when not in use. If your lab has the resources to invest in a laboratory dishwasher, it is highly recommended as they use one-third the water of hand-washing and half the energy. If you do have a lab dishwasher, only run it when it is completely full to maximize efficiency.
The UGA Green Labs program can assist your lab in selecting a high-efficiency laboratory dishwasher that meets your research needs. Email us at email@example.com.
Sink aspirators use 2+ gallons of water per minute. Even moderate use at this rate consumes around 50K gallons of water per year - for a single aspirator. Mechanical vacuum pumps are a great alternative and can complete the same task using no water and very little energy.