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.
Molecular biology grad student Samantha Romanick brings environmental stewardship to campuses by advancing re-fill and re-use options for all. Read her interview and watch her talk to learn more!
Scientists who incorporate lab sustainability into the culture of life science are doing the right thing for their communities. The Boston area is the proud home to an extraordinarily high number of biologists, pushing the frontiers of science. In a sense it’s quite the contrast, The city is now nearly 400 years old! But, let’s just say that historical construction planners for greater Boston did not foresee supporting so many labs.
14467028 - nightime view of cambridge, massachusetts
Northwestern University has an ace in the hole when it comes to making good use of lab surplus. Labs at the world-renowned Fineberg Shool of Medicine are now connected via a cloud-based resource-sharing technology, called Rheaply. Rheaply combines the ease of use of social media ease with the marketplace functionality of an ebay. No barcode labels necessary!
First off, people were fired up during the panel discussion. It was terrific. The audience and panelists critically examined typical lab practices and the effectiveness of ways to reduce waste. This is a great podcast to listen to over lunch. You can also read the full transcript of the green symposium podcast on the New England Biolabs web site, which includes helpful links to the resources mentioned.
Labs worldwide are faced with new challenges for recycling and waste reduction! View these expert talks, and read about their solutions for reducing laboratory waste. Over 50 Boston area life scientists attended the Go Green Symposium to get the latest information on laboratory sustainability.
Today’s blog is about (truly) bio-degradable Nodax™ PHA plastic, produced by the biotech company Danimer Scientific. Nodax™ PHA was invented some time ago, but its commercialization has just been ignited by food industry investments. Expect this bioplastic to spread like wildfire.
As the U.S. recycling industry undergoes a transformation, life scientists are looking for trustworthy, local recyclers to meet the challenge of processing lab plastic. Recycling systems work when they are convenient and space efficient. Boston area lab facilities have a new service option that does just that!
It’s no secret that scientific inquiry is dependent on funding. Advances in biomedical research contribute to human health, and are of inestimable value! At the same time, biomedical research is not an inexpensive endeavor. The competition for science funding is fiercer than ever. With green lab initiatives and BETR grants, scientists can boost the impact of their grant dollars, while maximizing their chances to receive awards.
This Thanksgiving holiday, Labconscious would like to thank the life scientists, and sustainability professionals, who have contributed their expertise and enthusiasm to our blog content over the past year. Their efforts have encouraged the worldwide trend in greening labs!
Learn why your university should run a green labs fair, and how to do it successfully, in this interview with University of California San Diego Sr. Social Responsibility Program Manager, Mark Ortiz.