Green labs survey
To collect data about the practices and general opinions of scientists in our biological laboratories, I surveyed researchers across the biological sciences division with the help of one of the graduate student Deans. The survey had two aims: to gain a sense for how well our labs are currently and how they can improve regarding sustainability, and to identify laboratories that may be interested in participating in a pilot GreenLabs program. I was delighted to receive 64 responses from PIs, lab managers, Post-docs, and graduate students, many of whom (36 labs) where interested in potentially participating in the GreenLabs pilot program.
The survey was designed to be completed in 2-3 minutes to encourage recipients to participate. The survey asked the respondent's role in the laboratory (PI, lab manager, etc.) and how to identify which lab they are in (lab name) to avoid confounding repeat responses.
One question inquired about the lab's classification (BSL 1, BSL 2, computational, medical, etc) to gain an understanding for what type of labs are taking the survey, as well as provide information regarding which labs will be the most advantageous to work with in a pilot program. For example, decreasing the computational labs' emissions will be relatively easy, but will not have the most gains. The pilot program will not include BSL 3 or 4 labs, as these labs bring their own challenges and protocols. Ideally, I would like to have about 5 'wet', or experimental, labs, and 1-2 computational labs in the pilot.
I modeled the next set of questions after UT Austin's Green Labs Self Evaluation Form (http://www.labmanager.com/business-management/2014/03/growing-green?fw1pk=2#.VZrYOGRVikp) to quantify how many of the laboratories are already following sustainable practices. Most labs consider sustainability when ordering office supplies, turn off the lights, shut the fume hoods, and maintain and review a chemical inventory. Other practices were far less common, however, including ordering green pipettes and test tubes, using environmentally friendly chemicals, reducing water use, and reducing the amount of printing and copying.
Lastly, I asked to what extent individuals agreed with “Our lab keeps sustainable choices in mind during day-to-day activities”? 42% of respondents strongly or moderately agreed, 31% neither agreed nor disagreed, and 27% strongly or moderately agreed. While this question does reflect the opinion of one individual about the choices made in the lab as a whole and is likely biased as sustainably-minded people may have been more likely to participate in the survey, it does provide insight into the mindset of those individuals participating in the survey. I am happy to see that so many respondents feel as though there is some degree of a sustainable culture already in the labs, as this will make changes easier to implement.
Next step: putting together a proposal with this data and recruiting labs to participate in the program!
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Today's Labconscious interview is for laboratory researchers interested in an easy to use and eco-friendly red bin system. Our thanks to Ian Lanza who is a regional life science director for Triumvirate Environmental, a provider of turnkey environmental and hazardous waste management services to education, healthcare, industrial, and life sciences labs...including New England Biolabs!
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Molecular biologists appreciate how the sustainably sourced, DNA purification Monarch kits produce optimal results
Grant awarded to analyze the impact of laboratory glove recycling at MIT.
The “iGEM goes green” initiative has provided their first GoGreenGuide online, which includes sustainability recommendations for ecofriendly lab work, including tools like a carbon footprint calculator. Read it before the iGEM conference in Boston this November!
Did you know that one laboratory fume hood uses as much energy in a year, as three average U.S. homes combined? Approximately 60% of laboratory energy bills go to HVAC systems that compensate for fume hoods.. Improvements to fume hoods represent a gigantic, green potential for cost savings in laboratory sustainability initiatives. This blog post is meant to explain how to get the best return on investment in your specific laboratory setting.
Have some intellectual fun today for a good cause! Take New England Biolab's Monarch® kits Upcycling Challenge to win either $1,000 in NEB product credit or a $1,000 donation to the charity of your choice. NEB will be donating $10 per submission to the Monarch Joint Venture whose mission is to conserve the monarch butterfly population.
Got used lab equipment? Support your scientific colleagues around the world by using Seeding Lab's easy donation process!