Did you ever stop to think about how much energy it takes to run a western blot, or how much energy that -20°C, -80°C or domestic freezer is using in your lab? I think for most of us these kinds of things just add to the white noise surrounding us as we are working at the bench. That, however, does not mean this issue is not important. Energy production is responsible for 26% of Greenhouse Gas Emissions worldwide, and laboratories are among the most energy intensive building types. In fact, labs use five times more energy per square foot compared to a typical office building. It is not uncommon to see just one large lab facility use as much energy as a small residential neighborhood!
The reason labs use so much energy is because like humans, they need to breathe. Typical labs require between 6-12 air changes an hour; every 5-10 minutes the building is ejecting its entire volume of air and replacing it with new air. Heating and cooling this amount of air so often consumes a tremendous amount of energy, anywhere from 60% -80% of the total building energy budget. Lighting, equipment, computers, servers and other plug loads constitute the remaining 20%-40%. With energy prices rising sharply across the globe, company executives are taking note of the effect of energy consumption on their bottom-line and putting company resources into reducing energy use.
Despite so much energy use, energy management opportunities are plentiful in laboratories and there are a myriad of ways to reduce energy consumption. Entire industries have sprung up around facility energy management needs from LED technology to smart HVAC optimization. In my next post we will take a deeper look into the lab space and identify energy intensive equipment and methods for reduction.
What is the best option to prevent E-waste? Reuse! High quality lab equipment should go to labs, not landfills! Learn how Biosurplus offers a smart and eco-friendly way to extend the life cycle of laboratory equipment for science.
University of Virginia scientists are enhancing their lab work space with money saving lab swaps, a new recycling program, and an eye on green procurement. In this syndicated post UVA Green Labs Specialist Christine Alencar spotlights UVA’s three part Green Lab event series on waste management.
When you think of going "green" in the laboratory, does it sound like a distraction? The truth is that there are big benefits to updating your lab material flow system. There are good reasons why research institutions and corporations have re-invented how labs work to facilitate sustainability. Consider the following impact areas of laboratory waste.
Labs that require the regular use of rooms to decontaminate employees know how much of a misnomer the term “cleanroom” can be. Sure, these areas prevent allergens and pollutants from affecting the workplace and potential consumers, but one look at the energy costs of operating such an area reveals an ironic truth: running a cleanroom can be a dirty business.
Freezers are among the biggest energy consumers in a lab, and as a result they can cost a lab a lot of money. The International Freezer Challenge promotes best practices in cold storage management and awards the labs who have done the most to save energy and improve their sample storage.
Fume hoods present a unique opportunity for the University of Virginia to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while informing researchers of better safety practices. #shutthesash
While biologists already have some choices for less toxic methods in their tool box, new discoveries in the field of green chemistry will lead to its faster adoption into life science lab work. The EPA and chemists collaborating internationally are pushing the frontiers of this trend for good reason.
Good news! A new generation of genetic engineers are starting off their careers, already mindful of the environmental impact of their laboratory work!!! Importantly, they need another iGEM team to continue to promote this cause on social media channels for next year's iGEM competition. Please share our enthusiasm by reading this interview with the TU Dresden team, AND share information about "iGEM Goes Green"!
Labconscious hopes that laboratories everywhere achieve their greatest research goals, using efficient laboratory work that protects our earth's resources and supports human health!
Can you verify how your laboratory supplies and equipment contribute to your sustainability goals? Start becoming an informed consumer by reading this interview with My Green Lab Director, Allison Paradise, about their newest project, the ACT labels.