The My Green Lab Summit 2022, which took place on May 26, 2022, concluded with the record-breaking participation of 450+ registrants from 19 countries. A day-long event spanning 12 engaging and interactive sessions, the My Green Lab summit saw participation from individuals across various organizational sectors. Representatives of pharma, biotech, medtech, academia, lab supply manufacturers, government, clinical, and non-profits attended the conference sessions.
Read our recap to get a glimpse of the various sessions, participating speakers, and discussion highlights.
The recordings of the virtual summit are available upon registration and can be purchased here.
Welcome & Opening remarks
My Green Lab CEO, James Connelly, commenced the summit by introducing the conference theme of community + collaboration and how achieving our mission to build a global culture of sustainability will take radical collaboration. Expressing his gratitude for our summit 2022 sponsors Agilent, Thermo Fisher Scientific, and Gilead, James remarked how the leading organizations in science are focusing on green lab programs in their pursuit of sustainability and net-zero carbon.
Update on Strategic Plan and progress to our goal
An update on My Green Lab's strategic plan followed, during which James described My Green Lab's progress towards our 2023 goals — highlighting the rapid growth of the My Green Lab staff and our programs. The My Green Lab Ambassador community currently stands at a strong 1900 individuals passionate about lab sustainability. There has been exponential growth in the My Green Lab Certification and ACT label programs over the past year.
My Green Lab's progress towards becoming the online hub for green lab information is well underway through our blog, the Beaker, and My Green Lab's 'Out of The Box stories' podcast hosted by our founder Allison Paradise. We have also been fleshing out our comprehensive education catalog by releasing the Waste, Green Chemistry, and Procurement Modules within the Green Lab Accredited Professional Program.
James shared the plan for updating and developing our core programs, the My Green Lab Certification and ACT label program, which aligns with our goal to innovate and improve our standards and programs continuously. The My Green Lab Certification Steering Committee was introduced at this time.
Finally, My Green Lab's goal 5 of measuring and evaluating our impact has seen significant progress since last year, owing to our 'Carbon Impact of Biotech & Pharma' study released at COP26 last year. We have also expanded our partnership with the UN High-Level Climate Champions team. We are working to accelerate the transition to Zero Carbon in Biotech and Pharma using our My Green Lab Certification program.
Million Advocates for Sustainable Science Campaign
During the opening remarks, the launch of a joint initiative between My Green Lab and the International Institute of Sustainable Labs (I2SL), the Million Advocates for Sustainable Science Campaign, was announced by Kathy Ramirez Aguilar, Green Labs program manager at the University of Colorado Boulder and a Board Member of I2SL. Kathy is one of the founders of the Green Lab Movement and has been the driving force behind this initiative.
Through this campaign, a challenge is issued to science funders around the world to encourage sustainability in research. Scientists and sustainability advocates worldwide are invited to unite in pushing for change by joining the Million Advocates for Sustainable Science letter campaign.
Our plenary speakers were three global sustainability leaders who shared how community and collaboration through green labs programs drive the large-scale changes in their organization's overall sustainability goals.
Rochelle Owen from Dalhousie University, who has worked in the environmental and sustainability field for over 30 years at non-profit, government, and academic institutions, shared her understanding of engaging people most effectively in bringing about change. She elaborated on her work around green development and lab retrofits, behavioral programs, planning and policy, and monitoring sustainability parameters.
Jason Snape, the Global Head of Environment with AstraZeneca's Global Sustainability Team, shared his team's global ambitions to deliver the zero-carbon strategy, drive natural resource conservation, and ensure the environmental safety of pharmaceuticals throughout the life cycle. Jason spoke about how his team uses partnerships and a vast network to help achieve those goals.
The final plenary speaker was the Executive Director of the UN Climate Change High-Level Champions, Frances Way. Frances talked about her work in connecting and driving companies and governments to measure and reduce their environmental impact. Frances is helping build communities and connections to make possible collective action on climate change.
Interactive Concurrent Sessions
The interactive concurrent sessions were added as a feature of the annual My Green Lab Summit this year at our community's request to have an informal roundtable discussion with green lab experts.
Starting a Green Labs Program
In the 'Starting a Green Labs Program' session, the roundtable hosts lead discussions on various topics, including Safety, Facilities, Procurement, Sustainability, and Scientists. A brief roundup of the discussion is below-
How to Maintain Engagement
This session focused on guidelines on various techniques to maintain engagement in green lab programs, anticipate roadblocks, and work towards resolutions.
Topics include Incentives, KPI & Dashboards, Social norming, and Top-down approaches. A brief roundup of the discussion is below-
KPI & Dashboards:
Hosted by Raj Patey, My Green Lab's Business Development Director, the Product Showcase focused on manufacturers working to measure, communicate, and improve their product's sustainability in various ways — including the My Green Lab ACT eco-label program — in their pursuit of lab sustainability. Representatives from reputed companies (Thermo Fisher Scientific, Merck, Agilent, QIAGEN, and Elemental Machines) showcased their ACT-labelled products.
Through the eight speakers featured in the three concurrent technical sessions, this part of the summit was packed full of insights from leaders who have successfully facilitated significant reductions in lab waste, energy, and water & chemicals usage.
In the waste session, Dr. Amy Pickering shared her case study of reducing plastic waste in a microbiology lab. Subsequently, Cheryl Reep of SW Safety Solutions focused on lab glove waste and how to curb it efficiently.
In the energy session, Dr. Stefan Thiele's presentation discussed his case study of sample stability at different ultra-low temperatures across various cell lines. Thomas Smith, the CEO of 3Flow, shared methods to optimize the safety and energy efficiency of airflow systems in lab facilities. Jennifer Ballew, representing the MIT Green Labs, discussed the creation and evolution of the Motion and Sash Height (MASH) Alarm leading to an overall reduction in average sash height of 75% and annual savings of $1,159 per hood.
In the water & chemicals session, Dr. Ray West spoke about Green Liquid Chromatography and how it reduces chemical use, waste, and power consumption in an analytical lab. David Hughes, the Project Manager with AstraZeneca's QC team, shared his journey through My Green Lab Certification's initial assessment all the way to achieving the highest' Green’-level certification with significant water reductions. Dr. Jonathan Tripp provided helpful resources to enable researchers to make sustainable choices when executing laboratory experimentation and demonstrated how to evaluate and improve the sustainability of a chemical reaction.
Panel: Collaborations – Innovative ways the community is coming together to address lab sustainability
The Collaborations panel of the summit fit well within the summit theme of community + collaboration. This session highlighted the discussions about how the panelists have leveraged partnerships or broad networks to advance lab sustainability in their local or regional communities.
We first heard from Susan Vargas from Stanford University, who spoke from the energy management perspective about the Laboratory Ventilation Management Program at Stanford, focusing on the collaboration between the organization's Facilities and EH&S departments to align sustainability efforts. Dr. Jonathon Moir, coming in from the Green Chemistry education perspective, discussed Beyond Benign's Green Chemistry and Teaching and Learning Community, an online collaborative hub releasing in 2023. Subsequently, Merete Miles of Thermo Fisher Scientific shed light on the 10-year strategic partnership between Thermo Fisher and UC San Diego to create a transformational academic-industry relationship focusing on a sustainable supply chain to transform the carbon footprints of both organizations.
Panel: Breakthrough Technologies that are changing the future of sustainable science
Sharing advancements in sustainable science technologies geared towards reducing energy, water, and waste generation in labs, this panel featured a remarkable set of executives from four companies with uniquely effective technologies. We heard about revolutionary new ideas spanning the topics of laboratory biohazardous waste material treatment, scalable asset performance management solutions, a custom point-of-use media manufacturing system, and a closed-loop solution for biomedical plastics.
The rest of the discussion followed a guided Q&A covering topics such as barriers to adoption, the influence of technologies on organizational culture, and the inspiration behind these new technologies.
Out of the Box Award – Phil Wirdzek
Aimed toward honoring veteran members of the green labs' community, the Out of the Box Award was presented by My Green Lab Founder Allison Paradise to Phil Wirdzek, the Founding President of the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL). Awarded posthumously for his work, Phil Wirdzek was an original and courageous thinker, willing to break the mold, push boundaries, defy convention, and in the process, redefine an industry.
The award was received on Phil's behalf by his sons Danny and Adam Wirdzek, who shared a few words about their father's legacy, his inspiration, and the impact he has had on those around him.
The recordings of the virtual summit are available upon registration and can be obtained here.