UCSF GREEN LABS
Welcome to UCSF Green Labs! Here you will find resources, tips and best practices to make your lab more sustainable. Our suggested simple actions save money, reduce energy use, and make the lab more efficient for researchers and lab managers.
Labs consume significantly more energy per square foot than the average building due to specialized equipment, such as laboratory fume hoods, -80 degrees freezers, and other research equipment. Operating labs as efficiently as possible will, thus, significantly reduce a lab’s carbon footprint and energy requirements.
Chill Up Your Freezer: -70C is the new -80C
According to MyGreenLab, chilling up your ultra-low freezer from -80 degrees Celsius (C) to -70C has two major benefits: it can reduce energy consumption by 30% and in doing so it can prolong the life of your freezer. This means less down time and less chance that your samples will be compromised.
The Office of Sustainability provides freezer rebates to labs looking to replace old, inefficient ULT freezers with energy efficient ones. For more information, click here.
Defrost freezers frequently
Ice acts as an insulator. When it builds up in a freezer, the system uses more energy to maintain the required temperature. Freezers should be defrosted when the ice is greater than 5 mm. Ask us for a free freezer brush!
Get a Mop
Clean up water and ice spills with a mop instead of paper towels and or absorbent pad. This will come in handy when defrosting your freezers as well.
Shut Your Sash
According to MyGreenLab, a single fume hood can use as much energy as 3.5 households every day due to the large volume of air that must be moved through the hood by the ventilation system. Lowering or shutting the sash reduces the speed of the exhaust fan, thereby reducing the energy used by the fume hood ventilation system.
Turn off or unplug equipment when not in use
This one is obvious, but a friendly reminder always helps. If a piece of equipment is not being used, turn it off. This applies to lights, centrifuges, shakers, computer monitors, and fume hoods. Another easy way to reduce energy and waste in the lab is to identify equipment that does not need to run 24/7 and use a timer to turn the items off in the evening and back on in the morning. Items such as heating blocks and mixers can easily be plugged into one power strip and programed to automatically turn off at the end of the day.
When left plugged in, our electronic gadgets and basic appliances still use what’s called phantom or vampire energy — even when they are turned off or in sleep mode. For example, a plugged-in cell phone charger sucks energy even when it’s not charging your phone. There is a simple antidote: unplug it when not in use. The use of a power strip can make this easy to do for multiple devices. Using a “smart” power strip that automatically shuts off when devices are inactive makes this even easier.
Buy Energy Star and EPEAT
If you are purchasing new equipment, look for Energy Star and EPEAT labels. Go here to see Energy Star lab-grade freezer and refrigerator options. For desktops, laptops, imaging equipment, mobile phones, and televisions, look for the EPEAT, ecolabel to identify and compare high-performance, more-sustainable products.
UCSF Facilities Services Water Efficient Equipment Incentive Program
New UC Office of the President policy requires the elimination of once-through water cooling for equipment. Equipment will be metered for two months pre-installation, and post-installation until the water savings payback is met. The incentive will be met if the water savings for the incentive amount are met in one year.
Sterilizers can receive a rebate of $5000
Sterilizers using water cooling consume between 150,000-1,000,000 gallons of water per year.
Other Lab Equipment can receive a rebate of $1000
Lab Equipment such as Glass Washers, Ice Machines and Condensers can consume between
25,000-150,000 gallons per year.
Pipette Racks for Glass Washers will receive a rebate for 50% of the purchase cost.
UCSF Facilities Services Laboratory Faucet Maintenance and Efficiency Program
Facilities Services is initiating a program to perform maintenance and efficiency work on laboratory faucets using domestic and industrial water for washing/rinsing. The program does not include faucets using purified water at this time.
Faucets will be cleaned up, and maintenance will be performed on all components. In addition, 1 gallon per minute laminar flow restrictors will be installed to improve water efficiency.
Interested in becoming a UCSF LivingGreen Certified Lab? Just fill out this self-assessment form and get rewarded for the safe, sustainable lab practices you have already implemented, and explore new ways to reduce the environmental impact of your lab. More information here.
We are excited to report that, in 2017, the Matthew State Lab became the first-ever LivingGreen Platinum Certified Lab at UCSF. How did they do it? Click here to read their story.