Green Lab Certification
The work going on in our laboratories is often extremely energy intensive and creates a lot of waste. Estimates indicate that labs use about ten-times more energy and four-times as much water than an office of equivalent size, and scientists at the University of Exeter (UK) calculated that the average scientist in their facility was generating almost 1,000 Kg of plastic waste per year.
To reduce the environmental impact of our work, we worked together with My Green Lab, a US-based non-profit dedicated to improving the sustainability of scientific research. Their Green Lab Certification put us to a rigorous review of current protocols and practices in the lab to identify actions to reduce the footprint of our lab. We implemented numerous changes that contributed to our successful certification.
As part of this, all our lab members completed the My Green Lab ambassador training. The entire lab was upgraded to energy efficient LED lighting. Our heating baths were placed on outlet timers to power down automatically overnight and water was replaced with metallic thermal conductivity beads. We labelled our equipment, fume hood, and biosafety cabinets with reminders to switch off after use. Water saving low flow aerators were installed on laboratory taps. We set up recycling for hard plastic, soft plastic, expanded polystyrene (Styrofoam), and Ion Torrent sequencing chips. We replaced one of our old laboratory freezers with an energy saving freezer that makes use of a natural refrigerant. We worked on eliminating single-use plastics, switched to using alcohol-free cell freezing devices, and implemented Green Chemistry principles where possible.
Here are some of the changes we implemented:
– Full LED lighting upgrade to lights in lab
– Outlet timers to power down pieces of equipment overnight (e.g. heating baths)
– Use thermal beads instead of water in heating baths (https://www.labarmor.com/)
– New freezer, uses natural refrigerants and more energy efficient technology (Thermo Fisher TSX series)
– Low flow aerators on taps
– Cell freezing units that don’t require isopropanol (e.g. Corning CoolCell)
– Set up recycling stations: soft plastics, hard plastics, EPS (Styrofoam), Ion Torrent sequencing chips
– Labeled equipment with shut down instructions (see stickers below!)
– Fume Hoods: ‘auto sash’ technology which means the sash lowers after 5 minutes of inactivity.
– Fume hood sticker to remind researcher to lower the sash.
– Reusable glass weighing funnels and paper weighing boats, to replace plastic weighing boats
– Use Coomassie SafeStain