Solutions to the world's biggest problems, including climate change and the coronavirus pandemic, are studied in research laboratories across the globe. But as sterile as those labs may appear, they have a dirty secret: immense carbon footprints.
Labs burn through five to 10 times more energy per square foot than offices, an impact that may be magnified tenfold for clean rooms and other specialized facilities. For instance, 44 percent of the energy use of Harvard University is derived from its laboratories, which take up less than a quarter of campus space. Labs also send massive amounts of water down the drain and discard possibly billions of pounds of single-use plastics every year.
A unifying force is needed that creates standards and fosters a space for strategies and best practices, according to James Connelly. That's what he wants to deliver as the new CEO of My Green Lab, which works with life sciences leaders including AstraZeneca and Agilent.
"It's sort of a surprising fact how much energy and water and materials that laboratory spaces consume," Connelly said. "It's been ignored by the green building world a little bit because it's difficult to address. So the unique aspect of what My Green Lab does is, it was created by scientists, for scientists to help work on behavior change and a transformation of how the labs are actually operated and how science and research is performed."
At universities and corporations alike, addressing emissions and waste in labs can significantly drive down costs and further sustainability commitments. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, if half of America’s labs shaved off 30 percent of their energy use, the total savings would be equivalent to the annual energy use of 840,000 homes.
"My Green Lab is a brilliant project because it reaches out to change behavior and mindset of scientists in the lab," said Pernilla Sörme, risk management lead in global safety, health and environment at AstraZeneca, which expanded Green Lab Certification to seven sites across its global portfolio.
The nonprofit is the first consolidated effort to educate researchers about sustainability in laboratory operations. Its Green Lab Certification already has labeled more than 400 labs. Last year, the Colorado Department of Agriculture became the first government lab to reach "green," the highest of five levels. If that sounds similar to green building standards, such as LEED, that's by design: My Green Lab is gunning to become the leading sustainability advocacy group in the life sciences, globally.
Connelly comes to the growing organization by way of the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), which he helped expand into the world's leading proponent of regenerative, healthy and equitable building design — managing its Green Building Challenge and Living Product Challenge before serving as VP of projects and strategic growth.
Projects and progress
My Green Lab's 15 partners and sponsors include biotech giant Genentech, MilliporeSigma and USA Scientific. The nonprofit also has teamed up with the EPA to bring the Department of Energy's Energy Star label to ultra-low temperature freezers used for COVID-19 vaccines, applied first to equipment sold by Stirling Ultracold, another sponsor of My Green Lab.
My Green Lab also runs the ACT "eco-nutrition" label for lab equipment. (ACT stands for Accountability, Consistency, and Transparency). It was created to help procurement officials and scientists with purchasing. The organization is working directly with manufacturers, including scientific instruments maker Thermo Fisher, to set benchmarks on products and packaging design.
The label rates the sustainability of products consumed in laboratories including beakers, pipettes, bottles and equipment such as autoclaves and chemicals. The ratings represent data from the GreenScreen safer chemicals benchmark as well as details on packaging and product handling at the end of life. Last April, diagnostics equipment leader Agilent signed up as a My Green Lab sponsor and also to have its instruments certified for ACT.
"We chose to work with My Green Lab because, like them, we understand the importance of building a more sustainable scientific industry," said Darlene Solomon, Agilent's chief technology officer and senior vice president. "In many cases, product developments in support of sustainability also reduce laboratory risk. As we see the importance and value that our customers place on sustainability growing, the ACT instrument labels from My Green Lab will play a major role in helping those customers to make more informed, sustainable decisions for their analytical laboratory."
The number of standalone lab-greening efforts has grown since Harvard-trained neuroscientist Allison Paradise created My Green Lab in 2013, from about 10 to 90 groups that engage tens of thousands of scientists around the world.
"We're seeing an acceleration of interest and excitement about sustainability through the pandemic, and that represents the general overall awakening and awareness of the life science industry to sustainability that My Green Lab is really helping to catalyze," Connelly said. "It's important because it's a growth industry that's going to be incredibly important to our future as a society, and to managing things like COVID or in the future other diseases that may come down the pipeline."
Through certification and education programs, My Green Lab enlists scientists and facilities professionals to clean up the carbon impact of labs. Lately, the group has been publicizing ways to green the cold chain for COVID-19 vaccines, which require sub-North-Pole temperatures. Its Laboratory Freezer Challenge, entering its fifth year, has gotten professionals from hundreds of labs to reduce the energy consumption of their deep freezers.
Higher efficiency energy systems in the green building industry don't address the "guts" inside a lab that really drive energy consumption, Connelly noted. "That's something I'm really excited about, to dive in deeply and see how quickly we can make an impact on these types of operations in buildings that have such a dramatic impact on climate change."
And because the higher-level sustainability goals of many organizations still haven’t moved down into their R&D labs, that means plenty of low-hanging fruit for scientists and their colleagues to pluck.
Noted energy hogs inside labs include ultra-low temperature freezers — which can eat up as much energy as a house — and chemical fume hoods for ventilation. The University of Glasgow’s Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation blames 42 percent of its energy consumption on centrifuges alone.
As for the overuse of single-use plastics, the University of Exeter estimated that academic researchers produced plastic waste equivalent to 5.7 million two-liter soda bottles each year.
Thankfully, Connelly has seen more companies thinking through how to change the supply chain of plastics, produce them in a more sustainable way, figure out ways to reuse or recycle them in laboratories, and change the way lab professionals manage plastics. "There's a ton of innovation happening," he said.
Based on case studies, My Green Lab estimates that participants in its Green Lab Certification can achieve reductions of 30 percent in energy use, 50 percent in water use and 10 percent in waste.
AstraZeneca was one of the first pharmaceutical companies to pursue Green Lab Certification at multiple sites, starting about two years ago. The company already had achieved LEED certifications in America and ISO 14 001 certification in Europe, and its R&D site leaders found in My Green Lab a global strategy to steer laboratory sustainability.
Reducing waste and energy in its labs aids AstraZeneca’s sustainability targets, issued a year ago, of zero carbon emissions by 2025 in operations and being negative-carbon by 2030 across its value chain. That includes moving toward 100 percent renewables and a fully electric fleet.
The Green Lab Certification has created a framework and a new way of working that becomes second-nature for AstraZeneca's scientists, Sörme said. "You start thinking, do I actually need to use a high-grade solvent or can I use a low-grade solvent that’s more environmentally friendly?" And scientists can share ideas across the global sites, which is driving innovation in product development as well as employee engagement.
"We also have a lot of fun activities," she said. "For instance, we got our scientists in the U.K., because they love doing research, to do a bit of an inventory. They did 'a day in the lab' to find out how much they used plastic-wise. That's the state we want to be at when people come up with ideas on their own and want to share that."
Each AstraZeneca lab site has a green team with scientists, facility managers, health and safety managers and procurement professionals. A survey kicks off the Green Lab Certification process, reaching out to every scientist, not just key leaders.
There’s a lot of best-practice sharing on novel ideas, such as for recycling lab gloves and reducing water use, Sörme noted. A lab in Boston might share solutions for a site in Cambridge, U.K., to adapt locally. Quick-win practices have included changing freezer filters annually and installing LED lights. AstraZeneca in 2019 credited Green Lab with helping it reach a 97 percent recycling rate of biological waste at a facility in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and sparking the recycling of tens of thousands of plastic centrifuge tubes and serological pipets in Cambridge.
The company is exploring how to raise the temperature of ultra-low temperature freezers from minus-80 to minus-70 degrees Celsius to achieve significant energy savings. In a separate effort, AstraZeneca was a winner in the 2020 Freezer Challenge run by My Green Lab and the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories.
My Green Lab's intention to address systemic issues by creating an ecosystem of programs echoes the approach taken by the ILFI, which was initially considered aspirational by many in the mainstream building establishment yet has been embraced by the likes of Microsoft and Google and making headway in Asia and Europe. Connelly hopes to see a similar growth trajectory at My Green Lab, which has an ambassador program and accreditation program in development.
It's worth noting that ILFI was an early advocate of identifying social equity as a root cause behind environmental problems, releasing its JUST Label behind building products in 2014, following its Declare Program in 2012 targeting "red list" chemicals of concern in building products.
"We want to start driving equity into our program and elevating it to the same position as efficiency and waste reduction and water reduction," Connelly said of My Green Lab.
To view this article on GreenBiz, click here.
To meet the critical climate and environmental issues of our time, My Green Lab is expanding its board of directors to add two new members from both academia and the industry-at-large. Joining the board are Dr. Sapna E. Thottathil, PhD, and Jeffrey Whitford, MBA.
“As My Green Lab moves from a leader in lab sustainability to a global institution and force for change across the scientific industry, a key aspect of our strategy is to add new, diverse voices to our organization. Both Sapna and Jeffrey are recognized and valued leaders in the industry, and dedicated advocates of sustainability. We are thrilled to welcome them to the team,” says James Connelly, My Green Lab’s CEO.
Thottathil is the Associate Director of Sustainability with the University of California's Office of the President. She currently sits on the Board of Pesticide Action Network and serves as a sustainability advisor to the Plant Based Foods Association. “The University of California is one of the leading institutions in providing and promoting green labs, and we have a long history of working with My Green Lab to introduce new sustainable perspectives and programs. I’m excited to help ensure that My Green Lab can support the climate goals of academic institutions in the U.S. and around the world,” says Thottathil.
Thottathil is also an author and editor who has worked on environment policy and sustainable food supply chains for many organizations including the Environmental Protection Agency. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Chicago, where she was awarded the Udall Scholarship for environmental leadership, before going on to receive an MSc from Oxford University and a PhD in Geography from the University of California at Berkeley, where she was the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship.
Whitford is the Head of Sustainability, Social Business Innovation, and Branding at MilliporeSigma. His team is charged with innovating and improving the products and supply chain at MilliporeSigma to continually reduce environmental impact. Through innovative design, green chemistry, and product recycling programs, Whitford is working to ensure MilliporeSigma is at the forefront of corporate social responsibility and has worked closely with the My Green Lab team through the ACT Label and Green Chemistry Programs. “My Green Lab’s mission aligns with the goals we’ve set at MilliporeSigma to help improve the communities and environments in which we live by creating greener alternatives in the lab. I’m proud to join the board and lend my expertise to this influential organization,” says Whitford.
Whitford earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and strategic communications from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and a master’s degree in business administration from Washington University in St. Louis.
Did you know that laboratories are one of the largest energy-consuming sectors in the country? In fact, after data centers, labs are widely recognized as consuming more energy per square foot than any other sector. However, taking the proper actions can greatly reduce the amount of energy your lab uses.
Below, we’ve outlined 9 actions you can take (starting today!) to improve energy efficiency in the lab.
1. Close fume hood sashes when not in use.
Closing your fume hood sash is one of the most impactful things you can do to save energy in the laboratory. Variable air velocity fume hoods can consume around 3.5 homes worth of energy per day. Whereas constant air velocity fume hoods use the same amount of energy whether they're open or closed, variable air velocity fume hoods, when open, use a whopping 110 kWh/day.
Fume hoods have fans within their exhaust systems that help air flow through the lab and the fume hood itself. When a sash is open, these fans suck in and exhaust a lot of the lab's heated or cooled air. The constant reheating and recooling of air that will only get sucked in again by the fume hood consumes a lot of energy. By shutting the sash, you'll reduce the amount of air being wasted, thus saving great deal of energy.
2. Put autoclaves in standby mode when not in use & only run them when full
Autoclaves consume 84 kWh per day. Specifically, large, steam-jacketed or medical grade autoclaves are massive energy consumers. Ensure you’re putting them into an energy conserving or stand-by mode when not in use, and only run them when they are full.
3. Set ultra-low temperature freezers to -70 C instead of -80 C
Ultra-low temperature (ULT) freezers, particularly older models, can consume about 25-30 kWh of energy per day, which is as much energy an American home uses in a day. Setting ULT freezers, particularly those that are 10-15 years old, to -70°C instead of -80°C will save 30% of this energy.
To learn more about how to optimize sustainability of freezer management in laboratories, visit our Freezer Challenge.
4. Turn off equipment when not in use
There is a lot of variability on how much energy your lab equipment consumes. Equipment that has big fan components (like biosafety cabinets), equipment that has heating or cooling elements (like drying ovens, incubators, or water baths), and equipment that pulls a vacuum (like vacuum pumps) tend to be the highest energy consumers in the lab. Turning this equipment off when it’s not in use, or on nights and weekends, can have a big impact on energy usage. Plug load makes up about 20% of energy consumption in a lab. For U.S. labs, reducing plug load by just 10% is the equivalent of taking around 650,000 cars off the road.
There are various ways to ensure equipment is turned off. You can simply unplug it, or invest in power strips to make it easy to turn multiple small pieces of equipment off all at once. If you need certain equipment to be ready for use when you walk into the lab, use outlet timers; this will ensure equipment auto-turns off at night and auto-turns on at the beginning of the day so that it’s ready to be used as soon as you walk in the door.
5. Properly maintain cold storage
Preventative maintenance can help keep cold storage running efficiently. Here are a few tips:
6. Share equipment among labs and turn off or unplug duplicate equipment
Equipment sharing has a similar energy saving impact as turning off equipment when it’s not in use. “Sharing” equipment can be useful even for labs that are using their own equipment. Here’s where scheduling comes in handy. Figuring out how often your lab is using equipment can allow you to optimize the time that it’s in use. Say your lab has two HPLCs that are only used, on average, 40% of the time. Through simple scheduling, you can consolidate use on the first and unplug the second. You’ll save energy and have the second HPLC ready to bring back online if the first one breaks.
Shared resource or instrumentation facilities are particularly useful for universities, where bigger pieces of high energy consuming equipment are in a shared lab and everyone has access, reducing the need for multiple labs to have to buy their own.
7. Turn off the lights when the last person leaves the lab
Lighting makes up around 15% of energy in the lab. Simply turning off the lights when you leave the lab or support rooms can have a significant impact. Turning off the lights during the day when ambient light is sufficient can even further reduce energy consumption. A small LED task light can provide additional illumination if needed and uses much less energy than overhead lights.
8. Utilize green chemistry techniques
The ACS Green Chemistry Institute is a great resource for learning about green chemistry techniques. Their guide on designing for energy efficiency offers two main points that can help improve efficiency in your lab:
Additionally, along with Beyond Benign and MilliporeSigma, we have updated our comprehensive teaching guide for undergraduate laboratories featuring green chemistry alternatives to traditional organic chemistry experiments. You can download the guide here.
9. Share your sustainability efforts with others in your lab, building, department, or organization. Encourage others to change their behavior!
Sharing your successes and best practices in the lab is a crucial element to improving efficiency. Be sure to share how you are reducing energy as often, and as broadly, as you can!
Let us know how you’re saving energy by sharing with us on our LinkedIn or send us an email at email@example.com.
Welcome to our first My Green Lab Ambassador Spotlight!
The My Green Lab Ambassador Program was designed for scientists and laboratory professionals who are motivated to encourage their lab to be more sustainable. This free, online learning program provides an introduction to lab sustainability and ideas for how sustainable actions can be implemented. Each month, we’ll be highlighting stellar individuals who have completed our program including our first ambassador spotlight, Dr. Namrata Jain.
Dr. Jain has been sustainability minded from a young age. She grew up in central India where upcycling, minimalism, and hand-me-downs were encouraged and food-waste was frowned-upon. After graduating from the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, she moved to Canada to pursue her M.Sc. degree as well as her Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia.
Through the Ambassador Program, Dr. Jain was able to connect with like-minded individuals who all have a passion for sustainability, and the program even inspired her to share what she learned with her network. “I found the tips about appliance efficiency particularly useful, which inspired me to compose a blog post about personal sustainability strategies and feature it on my blog.”
Learn more about Dr. Jain and her journey with the MGL Ambassador Program below.
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born and brought up in central India, in a state fondly called 'the heart of Incredible India'. I completed my undergraduate degree from the prestigious engineering college Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IIT-G).
Following my graduation, I moved to Canada in 2012 to attend graduate school and finished my M.Sc. degree from Western University in Canada. Thereafter, I relocated to the beautiful Vancouver city to join the Ph.D. program at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Here, I felt very fortunate to work in the iconic Michael Smith Laboratories building. My Ph.D. thesis was based on the characterization of catalytic proteins for use in bioethanol production and understanding the mechanisms of carbohydrate digestion by gut bacteria. I finished my doctoral program in 2020.
While living in Vancouver, I was very excited to learn about the City of Vancouver’s urban sustainability initiative, the Greenest City Action Plan. I was also very inspired by the Green Chemistry Initiative of the University of Toronto. I subsequently co-founded and chaired GreenChem UBC, a green chemistry student-group aimed at lowering the environmental impact of chemistry research labs and promoting lab safety, in compliance with the 12 principles of Green Chemistry. I also worked as a sustainability ambassador with the UBC Sustainability Initiative to create projects and events aimed at educating the UBC community about sustainability.
What drives you to be more sustainable in the laboratory?
Being raised in a household where upcycling, minimalism, and hand-me-downs were the norms and food-waste was frowned-upon, I have always been sustainability-minded. Later in life when I became a chemistry researcher, I experienced firsthand the amount of toxic waste generation and solvent consumption in laboratories daily. I believe that there is great potential in reprioritizing resource-use and facilitating research with lower environmental impact. Ever since I first learned about the 12 principles of green chemistry, I have been motivated to integrate them into my work as a researcher.
What is the most interesting thing you learned while becoming a My Green Lab Ambassador?
The My Green Lab Smart Science Training Videos are packed full of information about water conservation, waste management, and green chemistry techniques. I found the tips about appliance efficiency particularly useful, which inspired me to compose a blog post about personal sustainability strategies and feature it on my blog.
How has the My Green Lab Ambassador Program enriched your sustainability journey?
By participating in the My Green Lab Ambassador Program, I was able to connect with a network of like-minded individuals working towards integrating sustainability in their personal and professional lives. The webinars and discussions facilitated by My Green Lab are great resources for future leaders in this field. I am deeply inspired by this community and am looking forward to contributing to this field professionally.
What are your 2021 sustainability goals?
For the upcoming year, I plan to continue my gradual transition from a vegetarian to a vegan diet. I would also prioritize using ethically-sourced, local products as well as educating myself more about the UN Sustainable Development Goals. I hope to continue writing about sustainable living and learn from established leaders in this field.
Learn more about Dr. Jain by visiting her blog.
Interested in becoming a My Green Lab Ambassador? Sign up here.
By Guest Author Deepa Kundadka
Did you know that going green and having sustainable programs in laboratories can make labs safer? And lower the worker compensation rate by keeping employee injuries and illnesses to a minimum?
Think about it. Laboratories are considered high energy consumers as they use fume hoods, biosafety cabinets, vacuum pumps, consumables, and solvents, among others. Speaking from experience, I recently led efforts towards getting a major Biotech Research & Development (R&D) laboratory certified through My Green Lab’s Green Lab Certification program. I am proud that they achieved the highest level of green certification through their consistent sustainability efforts in the laboratories. During this certification journey, we learned a lot about various aspects of laboratory energy consumers.
Freezer Efficiency Reduces Risk
While learning about reduction of high energy consumption in the lab through the certification, we also touched upon safety aspects of the laboratory elements. For instance, we learned about the Freezer Challenge. In an R&D laboratory, the scientist community stores a lot of biological specimens, study samples, and reagents in the cold storage units popularly known as -80 and -20 freezers. The Freezer Challenge gives laboratory scientists an opportunity to make efficient use of freezer space by assessing current inventory of study samples and purging those that are no longer needed. It also creates awareness of freezer preventative maintenance programs, with freezer maintenance tips that include ensuring filters are replaced at least once a year or on a periodic schedule.
A well-maintained freezer not only makes the freezer efficient, but also makes it safer for employees by reducing frost build up in the freezers and thereby minimizing injury associated with frostbite. While this may seem like a minor thing, it really is a game changer. If this challenge were not in place, scientists would not be motivated to maintain sample inventory, which can lead to scientists accumulating samples for years and then needing extra freezers. Additional freezers mean an increase in energy consumption, space requirement, additional maintenance, and cost.
The employee engagement and leadership opportunities the challenge provides to the employees are priceless. When my client won the Freezer Challenge award, they received increased visibility from management. The challenge also notifies scientists on the amount of energy they saved because of their participation in the challenge, which gave a sense of accomplishment to the scientists and made it worthwhile for them to be part of the program.
Green Chemistry Reduces Exposure to Harmful Solvents
Another new learning opportunity came through green chemistry. Greener alternatives to chemicals and solvents are safer for employees and help in reducing employee exposure to harmful solvents. The education and awareness around this topic were invaluable. It opened a new door towards thinking about the substitution of solvents with safer and greener alternatives among the scientist population. These efforts have a positive impact on the health and safety of people in the lab and those supporting the labs, and generally reduce costs associated with lab operations.
As one of their sustainability goals, my client site took part in the Fume Hood Challenge. The challenge involved making sure sashes were closed when scientists completed work and that fume hood, glassware, and solvents were stored in their respective locations such as shelves and flammable cabinets.
It also increased awareness about elevating the equipment in the fume hood to improve airflow, keeping the sash at the recommended height, and working at least 10 cm inside the fume hood to maximize airflow and thereby reduce employee exposure to chemicals and solvents. While addressing sustainability, we also touched upon employee safety while working at the fume hood. In addition, it made the scientists aware of the annual certification of fume hoods. Although facilities and engineering departments typically keep the annual certification of fume hoods on their radar - at times fume hoods miss annual certification due to human error. As scientists learned about this, we had an extra set of eyes looking at these annual certification requirements.
Small Yet Impactful Sustainability Practices Matter
Even little things go a long way. Shared printers and setting up printers on double sided, black and white mode as default settings helps to reduce paper waste and clutter in the laboratory. Reduced clutter helps in maintaining cleaner laboratory space. Besides printers, sharing commonly used equipment such as plate washers and vortexes help to free up benchtop space. As a group approach, when employees start sharing equipment, running autoclaves and glass wash when they are full not only helps in water conservation and energy saving – but also helps in establishing standard laboratory practices and promotes longevity of the equipment.
Opt for ENERGY STAR Rated Equipment
Having a buy-in from procurement from the get-go helps research labs to purchase equipment that has an ENERGY STAR rating. For example, standard compressor-based ultra-low temperature (ULT) freezers demand large amounts of power to operate in the lab, consuming as much electricity as the average U.S. household. Stirling Ultracold ULT freezers use up to 75% less energy to operate than standard compressor-based systems. They use their innovative free-piston Stirling Ultracold engine technology. By replacing traditional ULT freezers with ENERGY STAR-certified units, such as the Stirling Ultracold upright, laboratories can greatly reduce both energy use and carbon footprint. These ULT freezers also give off much less heat than the traditional compressor-based ULT freezers. This reduced heat demands less from running air conditioners to maintain comfortable interior temperatures, thereby reducing heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) operating costs and designed-in facility capital cost.
Traditional -80 freezers use ozone depleting substances (ODS) as refrigerants. At the end of their lifecycle, the facilities team must manage them appropriately to ensure ODS gases are disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner. With Stirling, we do not have to worry about that as they use natural refrigerants. It makes it safer for facilities to manage the end of product life cycle disposal requirements and thereby reduce the employee risk associated with handling traditional -80s.
Biological Safety Cabinets and Material Management
Biological Safety Cabinets (BSC) are used in the research lab to conduct research on biological specimens. A BSC is a ventilated enclosure offering protection to the user, the product, and the environment from aerosols arising from the handling of potentially hazardous microorganisms. The continuous airflow is discharged to the atmosphere via a HEPA filter.
Maintaining and keeping the BSC clean after use protects employees from blood-borne pathogen related illnesses and minimizes laboratory acquired infections. Educating scientists on the use of UV lights for no more than 30 minutes not only saves energy but keeps employees safe from exposure to UV light.
Material management and chemical inventory is a huge aspect in the research laboratory. Educating scientists on correctly sizing the chemical inventory helps to reduce storage space and waste created by duplication of orders. The First In/First Out policy helps to consume chemicals in the order of their expiration date thereby reducing hazardous waste generation. Proper chemical storage, separation of incompatible chemicals, and use of secondary containment helps to minimize laboratory accidents and fires along with protection of cabinets from residues of reactive chemicals.
Although research labs typically only carry biowaste, hazardous waste containers, and a trash can at the maximum, having additional options such as recycling and compost bins help the laboratory to reduce waste and clutter. When sustainability becomes part of the culture in the laboratory, employees feel particularly good when they can recycle good quality empty reagent plastic bottles and glass bottles. This reduces the company's greenhouse gas emission - what could have ended up in a landfill will now be segregated in terms of trash, recycling, and compost. If the company is working towards a zero waste goal, this can help significantly.
Sustainability and Safety Go Hand in Hand
In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that promoting sustainability in labs not only keeps the lab safer, but proves to be a great return on investment. Scientists and lab support staff feel good about greener approaches to laboratory practices - it keeps things fresh and innovative in terms of employee engagement. As described with various examples, sustainable laboratories contribute towards safer lab practices and makes it very conducive for running lab programs flawlessly. Sustainability and safety in the lab go hand in hand and help the company to save money in the long run.
Guest Author Deepa Kundadka, Founder & CEO of DKK Safety and Environmental, started the company in 2017. She is a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) by profession. She has a Master’s degree in Safety Sciences from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Her expertise includes laboratory sustainability, zero waste, risk management, industrial hygiene, laboratory safety and biosafety among others. She has over 13 years of experience in the industry. In her recent project, she helped a major biotech organization to obtain the highest level of the My Green Lab Certification. She has also led other projects in sustainability such as LEED certification, International Freezer Challenge, Fume Hood Challenge, and Zero Waste certification among others. You can learn more about DKK Safety and Environmental at www.dkksafety.com