In practicing an ethos of sustainability in our laboratories, it’s easy to overlook some of the intuitive but less apparent ways in reducing waste. There are actually varied and abundant ways we can reflect high standards of social and environmental responsibility but we tend to focus on the most visible forms of lab waste like plastic, forgetting that electricity consumption is one of the major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.
My Green Lab and the Center for Energy Efficient Labs (CEEL), a non-profit organization that aims to improve the sustainability of scientific research, released a report saying that the most commonly used lab equipment in the US consumes energy equivalent to the energy consumption of over 4 million homes. It’s no secret that labs use up 3 to 5 times more than typical offices due to its nature of 24/7 operation of energy-intensive equipment and high airflow rates.
Lab Manager, an organization that seeks to help laboratory leaders run their labs like a business, provided some of the best practices.
Green chemistry is the practice of reducing the generation of hazardous waste in the designing of chemical processes and products. This approach also reduces the unnecessary exposure of personnel to noxious and toxic chemicals.
Selecting benign or green alternatives for commonly used chemicals and reagents whenever possible.
Rethinking your lab’s air exchange rates. This includes actively sampling the air in your lab and aligning the number of air exchanges with chemical exposure risks, leading to a 50% reduction in energy consumption.
Though laboratories naturally consume a disproportionate amount of energy, scientists still have control over how much energy they utilize. By doing these best practices, overhead costs will be reduced for labs who lessen their energy consumption.