Green Labs Shut the Sash competition rewards researchers with energy savings
Laboratories are one of the most energy intensive sectors of research universities. You can literally hear the equipment humming, and the consumption of electricity everywhere. This is especially true of fume hoods. I discovered this shortly after I began working in a lab at Harvard Medical School in 2007. My manager insisted that we keep the fume hoods shut because they "use so much energy." Many years later I learned just how true that he really was. A study I performed for Harvard’s Green Labs program (where I now work) showed that competitions that encourage and reward researchers for closing their fume hoods when not in use can realize big savings in energy and utility costs for laboratories.
Making fume hood energy savings stick
For universities or private laboratories seeking to start a behavior change program to drive energy reduction, a Shut the Sash Competition is the first logical step. From my previous experience as a lab manager, I can say that stickers and reminders telling people to "Shut the Sash" may lead to improvement, but an ongoing competition will produce the best results. Harvard's goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2016 including growth requires the cooperation of people at every level within the University. Shut the Sash not only requires participation and collaboration from facilities and operations, but also with students, staff, and faculty. Please visit www.green.harvard.edu/labs to learn more.
-Quentin Gilly, Senior Coordinator, Harvard University Office for Sustainability