Lab in Science Center
Student working in a lab in the Science Center.

Clean and Green

Our Sustainability Experiment

Labs are one of the most resource-intensive spaces on a college campus (i.e., energy, water) and generate a distinctly different waste stream from the usual academic and residential waste streams. Our Green Lab program helps minimize the use of energy, water, material goods, and hazardous chemicals in laboratories and promote efficient, effective use of equipment and lab space, and as such improve the sustainability of  our labs.


Green Lab Guidelines

Energy Saving

  • Ensure that fume hoods are closed, not only to keep working conditions safe, but also to save energy. If possible, unused fume hoods may be able to be turned off, and/or work can be consolidated into a smaller number of fume hoods when possible. 
  • Maintain freezers by keeping them free of frost, the cooling coils free of dust, and having your samples spaced out.

Water Saving

  • Report Leaks! Leaks can go unaddressed for several weeks before they are reported, and even a small leak can waste a bathtub’s worth of water a day! 
  • Conserve water by using the appropriate grade of purity required for your work. Manufacture of higher purity water requires high pressure pumps and filters, all of which increase the energy consumption, consumables, and wastewater production.
  • By running autoclaves only when full, you not only reduce water waste but also save a huge amount of energy! Consider arranging a schedule for autoclaving with your lab, and/or sharing loads with other nearby labs to reduce the need to run loads that are not full. 

Waste Reduction

  • Managing purchases is the best way to eliminate waste. Ask other labs on campus if they have an excess of what you might need.
  • Using plastics more than once, where possible and safe, is a good way to reduce plastic waste and reduce costs for your lab. For example: when loading a gel, tips can be reused for multiple wells by “washing” the tips between each sample in the gel buffer. Other items, such as test tubes and syringe plungers can also be saved and reused multiple times.

Sustainable Procurement

  • Careful consideration while procuring items incorporates environmental concerns, social equity, and human health. When resupplying commonly used products, you can change vendors to suppliers with definite and clear commitments to sustainability, or those with environmental criteria incorporated into their business practices. You can also purchase from companies with buy back programs for end-of-life disposal of equipment. 
  • ENERGY STAR® certified products provide the same level of equipment functionality while decreasing environmental impact and operational costs. If ENERGY STAR is not an option, seek out efficient features, such as timers on autoclaves or ovens.