We are proud to announce the winners of the 2021 Freezer Challenge - our largest competition since launching the program five years ago!
It's our pleasure to share with you the video that we put together featuring the impact of the Freezer Challenge and many testimonials from the 2021 Freezer Challenge winners!
Despite the difficulties facing the world in 2020 and 2021, this year’s challenge was not only our largest with over 300 laboratories joining the competition, but participants saved more energy than ever before. The Freezer Challenge, a cold storage competition coordinated by My Green Lab and the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL), encourages scientists across the government, academic, biopharma, and clinical sectors to implement a variety of best practices related to cold storage management in their own labs. Through friendly competition, the Freezer Challenge helps labs optimize the sustainability of cold storage management in laboratories around the globe.
Over two-hundred and twenty-two laboratories completed the competition, representing 113 different research institutions from around the world, and saving a combined ~4.3 million kWh/year, up from 3.2 million kWh/year in 2020. This is the equivalent to reducing carbon emissions by 3,000 metric tons per year.
Throughout the Freezer Challenge, which takes place over a six-month period, labs receive points for taking sustainable actions related to their cold storage units, including actions that promote energy efficiency, sample accessibility, and sample integrity. Winners are determined considering both the number of points earned as well as the amount of energy saved.
This year we have decided to give out more awards than ever before thanks to the great achievements from participating labs. For the first time, we had winners from countries outside of Europe and North America including labs in Australia and Indonesia. We also had our very own Cinderella story, with the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who had 34 labs participate in the challenge, receive a well-deserved award after receiving honorable mentions multiple times in the past.
Without further ado, here are the 2021 Freezer Challenge winners!
2021 Freezer Challenge Organizational Winners:
After having earned the top Academic Organization award for the fourth year in a row, we have awarded The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign our Winning Streak Award for 2021. They saved over 300,000 kWh over the past year through their efforts.
Honorable mentions to organizations go to Merck (known as MSD outside the U.S.), the University of Southern Denmark, and the Royal College of Pathologists Australasia, all of whom gave the competition their all, achieving some incredible energy savings in the process. Great work!
For the first time in 2021, we are awarding multiple Lab Awards per research sector, recognizing small, medium, and large labs (by number of lab members), as well as biorepositories/core facilities.
Individual laboratory winners of the 2021 Freezer Challenge are:
Winners will be honored at the I2SL conference on September 27, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia, and will be featured in an upcoming article in the journal Nature.
The Freezer Challenge is a joint program run by My Green Lab and the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL), and is made possible through the generosity of industry sponsors. Our sponsors for the 2021 competition are: Eppendorf, Stirling Ultracold, PHCbi, Elemental Machines, B Medical Systems, and Thermo Fisher Scientific.
Here's How the ACT Label Helped Thermo Fisher Scientific Solidify Their Commitment to Sustainability
The ACT Environmental Impact Factor Label was designed by My Green Lab to address the need of both scientists and procurement specialists for clear, third-party verified information about the environmental impact of laboratory products. By emphasizing Accountability, Consistency, and Transparency (ACT) around manufacturing, energy and water use, packaging, and end-of-life, ACT makes it easy to choose more sustainable products.
Thermo Fisher Scientific recently completed the process of labeling 207 of their Ultra Low Temperature Freezers totaling 621 labels through the My Green Lab ACT label program! As our biggest ACT label project to date, we're proud to partner with Thermo Fisher Scientific to continue building a culture of sustainability in science with an organization that has environmental sustainability at the forefront of their mission.
The opportunity to reduce the environmental impact of labs through smarter purchases is tremendous. We spoke with Thermo Fisher Scientific to learn more about their journey with the ACT label. Throughout the six month process, Thermo Fisher Scientific was able to solidify their commitment to sustainability, helped instill a culture of sustainability throughout their organization, and better connect with their customers.
"ACT labelling our portfolio helped us understand the myriad of ways our products can help our customers achieve their sustainability goals. Plus, we can point customers to the ACT label database for scores and provide helpful insights to how the scores were generated – both of which will allow customers to make informed decisions when purchasing equipment."
Read on to learn more about Thermo Fisher Scientific's journey with My Green Lab's ACT label.
Starting the Process
In your opinion, why must manufacturers make laboratory products sustainably?
For Thermo Fisher Scientific this starts with our mission which is to support science by enabling our customers to make the world healthier, cleaner, and safer. Building environmentally sustainable products is core to our values, and we see it as a responsibility owed to our customers and the planet.
Why do you think sustainable laboratory procurement is essential? When purchasing goods or services, it is important that the buyer consider the impact on the environment and society. By sourcing more environmentally sustainable options, we can incentivize suppliers and markets to source and produce greener goods and services – reducing the impact on the environment and society.
What does your organization do differently in the product development process to make your products sustainably?
We continue to invest in and investigate new ways of developing energy efficient products. Our New Product Development process incorporates environmental sustainability as we bring products to the market. We partner with our suppliers to ensure raw materials are sourced from recycled content wherever available. Further, we manufacture the majority our products in a zero-land fill factory.
What were some of your specific expectations from the program when you first started? How did those expectations change or develop as you went along?
Honestly, we weren’t sure what to expect. We recognized the environmental importance of having our products evaluated during the ACT label process and wanted to know the individual scores and sum of all of the scores. We understood that the process would highlight our sustainability strengths and point us towards ways to continuously improve our products and processes. We approached this as a learning experience and recognized that it would provide us input around new ways that we can support our customers in their journey in bringing environmentally sustainable products into the lab.
What was your strategy to approach the project of such enormous magnitude?
Because of the significant value we see in the ACT label we took the leap and went for it. We were unsure the project magnitude until we were a few months into the process, but the team was dedicated to ACT labelling our entire Cold Temperature Technologies portfolio. Much of the heavy lifting was accomplished by a handful of industrious individuals - especially during the data collection and evaluation process.
Bringing the ACT Label to Life
How long did the certification process take from the kick-off call until the label issue?
The entire process was completed in about six months. A few months to really get an understanding of what data was needed, a couple months to summarize and collect data, and then a few months of refining the data submissions and ultimately preparing for the final data audit. It really is an outstanding achievement. We were in the middle of the pandemic working to support ACT label data requests with equipment that is frontline (Ultra-low temperature freezers) in vaccine distribution.
What was the most memorable moment of this whole journey for you?
One of the most memorable moments was when we spent a day weighing and documenting our electronic componentry. This was a tedious process but provided clear insights into where recycled content is currently used during manufacturing and where we can focus on increasing recycled content for the future.
How many people from your team/organization were directly (and indirectly) involved in the ACT label certification process?
~25 people were involved, from product managers, facilities and safety, sales, marketing, procurement, engineering support, and executive level engagement. However, only a handful of employees were needed to oversee the data gathering process.
Results: What The ACT Label Helped Thermo Fisher Scientific Achieve
Could you please describe the specific need/ask this program fulfilled and the challenge it resolved for your organization and product?
ACT labelling our entire Cold Temperature Technologies portfolio demonstrates our commitment to environmental sustainability as a lab equipment manufacturer and puts us in a position to continuously improve our environmental footprint.
How did pursuing and obtaining the ACT label better connect you with your customers?
ACT labelling our portfolio helped us understand the myriad of ways our products can help our customers achieve their sustainability goals. Plus, we can point customer to the ACT Label database for scores and provide helpful insights to how the scores were generated – both of which will allow customers to make informed decisions when purchasing equipment.
What effect did the certification process have on the sustainability culture within your organization?
ACT labeling had a huge influence on our team. As we worked through the process, we were continually educated on areas where we could act as champions for sustainability across the business unit. The effect is that the culture of sustainability was instilled and continues to spread as there is a renewed push for environmental sustainability in our factories and throughout the organization.
"The ACT label process re-energized us and brought renewed focus on the need for better and more environmentally sound practices and processes."
How did your organization go beyond energy efficiency through the ACT label certification of the ULT Freezers?
Energy efficiency, while important, is only a part of the ACT label scoring. We looked extensively at how we build the ULT and where we could reduce waste. We examined where we used recyclable content in our manufacturing and connected with our key suppliers to make improvements. Because of ACT labeling, we are educating our customers and channel partners on the benefits of the ACT label and where better disposal and reduction of waste practices can be used when a product is at the end of its life.
What were the most important aspects of your sustainability efforts that affected your score?
Our biggest effort that impacted the ACT label ULT score was the ULT Manufacturing score. We scored a 3 out of 10 because of the fact that the Asheville, NC facility, where our ULTs are manufactured, is a zero waste facility with a state-of-the-art Air Conditioning system where all green foams and coolants are used. This was very impactful to our ACT label score and allowed us an opportunity to bring this to light during the ACT label scoring process.
Future and Long-Term Impact
"The ACT label certification process helped us value the importance of environmental sustainability as part of our company’s culture – and to keep the culture of 'thinking green' during all decision making."
What positive lessons have you learned through the ACT label certification process that would drive future product development decisions?
The ACT label certification process helped us value the importance of environmental sustainability as part of our company’s culture – and to keep the culture of “thinking green” during all decision making. In particular, we really focused our attention to sourcing raw materials and carefully evaluating our suppliers for their commitment to sustainability as a key element in building more opportunity to bring environmentally friendly practices to our manufacturing.
How does obtaining the ACT certification align with the long-term sustainability objectives of your company and your customers?
Because of the fact that the label is only valid for two years and requires a re-certification when it expires, the ACT label incentivizes us to improve environmental sustainability across the organization and our supply chain so that we can score better in the re-certification process. The ACT label is a powerful tool for Thermo Fisher Scientific to demonstrate our resolute dedication to our mission of enabling our customers to make the world healthier, cleaner and safer.
Learn more about the ACT label and how you can label your products by clicking here!
We are proud to announce that our Green Lab Certification has been selected as a key indicator of progress for the United Nations Climate Change's High Level Climate Champions 2030 Breakthroughs Race to Zero campaign! In the lead up to the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference, our Green Lab Certification program was chosen as a key player to help pharmaceutical and medical tech companies achieve the goal of a zero carbon world by 2050.
Race to Zero is the UN-backed global campaign rallying non-state actors – including companies, cities, regions, financial, educational, and healthcare institutions – to take rigorous and immediate action to halve global emissions by 2030 and deliver a healthier, fairer zero carbon world in time.
During the global pandemic, over 3,000 businesses, 173 of the biggest investors, 733 cities, 31 regions, 622 higher education institutions, and 37 healthcare institutions representing over 3,000 hospitals have joined the largest ever alliance committed to the same overarching goal: reducing emissions across all scopes swiftly and fairly in line with the Paris Agreement, with transparent action plans and robust near-term targets.
As part of this effort to accelerate climate action, the 2030 Breakthroughs campaign shows what key actors must do, and by when, to deliver the systems change we need to achieve a resilient, zero carbon world in time across the 30 sectors of the global economy.
Our Green Lab Certification is the global gold standard for laboratory sustainability best practices and the cornerstone of My Green Lab’s mission to build a global culture of sustainability in science. The program covers 14 topics related to energy, water, waste, chemistry/materials, and engagement, and provides scientists and the teams that support work within laboratories actionable ways to make real and impactful environmental changes. To date, Green Lab Certification has supported nearly 700 labs in a variety of sectors engaging over 4,600 scientists from 29 different countries.
The UNFCCC High Level Climate Champions’ 2030 Breakthroughs outlines three measurable and achievable goals, for the short, medium, and long term that will drive the long term decarbonization across every sector of the global economy. These goals include targeting 20% of sector-specific key actors joining the Race to Zero by 2023; defining sector-specific “Breakthrough Outcomes” that indicate and drive system change by 2030; and sector-specific goals, delivered by 2050 - the net zero future states following these system changes.
The Breakthrough Outcome for the Pharma Sector states, "95% of labs across major pharma and med-tech companies are My Green Lab certified at the green-level by 2030.”
My Green Lab’s Certification program was selected because it is a clear, measurable goal that enables the system change necessary to turn Race to Zero’s vision into a reality in the scientific industry by targeting carbon hotspots and key leverage points.
"AstraZeneca is a proud early supporter of the Race to Zero Campaign and has ambitious targets to be net zero across our global operations by 2025, as well as carbon negative across our entire value chain by 2030. So far, we’ve adopted My Green Lab Certification in over 65 labs around the world. This is a key way in which we are accelerating carbon reduction in healthcare R&D and instilling a culture of sustainability at AstraZeneca,” says Penny James, Chief Operating Officer, Biopharmaceuticals R&D, at AstraZeneca.
Green Lab Certification helps to drive down the impact of research labs, a major driver of carbon impact, while inspiring individuals within those labs to develop a culture of sustainability, creating far reaching impacts. For pharmaceutical and medical tech companies, this cultural shift motivates and informs scientists and laboratory staff as they build the next generation of treatments, ensuring sustainability is integrated into how they produce new products for the market.
Further, Green Lab Certification encourages companies to tackle their Scope 3 emissions (the indirect emissions from their supply chains) by encouraging sustainable purchasing of lab supplies leveraging My Green Lab’s ACT label, the first of its kind eco-nutrition label for laboratory products.
“The High Level Climate Champions’ 2030 Breakthroughs outline a bold, ambitious vision, but these goals must be followed up by concerted action with real impact. Green Lab Certification is a critical tool to drive action on the ground in the industry, and we firmly believe it is possible for all labs globally to go green by 2030 and absolutely necessary if we are going to achieve a long term zero carbon target for the industry,” says James Connelly, My Green Lab’s Chief Executive Officer.
Ready to join us in the race to a zero carbon world?
Learn how your lab can become Green Lab Certified here.
Say hello to My Green Lab Ambassador and European Product Manager at Mettler-Toledo Rainin Tim Dillon! Growing up in rural Ireland opened Tim's eyes to the joys of nature, and his education and work in the world of science inspires him to advocate for and raise awareness about sustainability.
"Since embarking on a sustainability journey, with My Green Lab as a partner, I have learned of many ways that we, as individuals, can contribute to positive change. My Green Lab provides individuals with the knowledge and motivation to take personal responsibility for their actions, often shining a light on aspects of sustainability that would have otherwise remained in the dark," says Tim.
Read on to learn more about Tim and his sustainability journey below.
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by the world of nature; I grew up in rural Ireland and consider myself fortunate to have been immersed in a wild countryside for all of my younger life. This fascination and joy followed me throughout my later education when I studied Biology/Ecology at university and later analytical techniques as a post graduate.
After a brief sojourn in the lab, the city and business beckoned. The opportunity and vibrancy of London attracted me. Still, I was enamored with the parallels between natural ecosystems and business ecosystems. This philosophy formed a constant backdrop to my early career, a time in which I set up and managed businesses as diverse as a high street photography lab and a cocktail bar. Always looking for lessons from natural systems and processes that could be applied to business practices, I never lost my belief that stable, self-regulating systems will thrive over those that are largely one sided and myopic.
Many years later and once again, I find myself drawn to the world of science. Rainin has provided me with the opportunity to combine my passion for science with my love of business and people. I get to visit many labs, speak to a wonderfully diverse mix of scientists, business administrators and, for me, the best bit, Sustainability Warriors (they do not always work in the lab you know!). Through my remit to drive the culture of sustainability through Rainin and outwards into the larger scientific community, I feel I have an opportunity to educate and influence people for the better, to raise awareness of the everyday practical steps that we can all take to lighten our footprint on the planet.
I believe that everyone can make a difference, and small acts matter. In helping people realize this, and showing them how, I feel that I, in turn contribute towards my own personal goal of effecting positive change.
What drives you to be more sustainable in the laboratory?
First, a small confession. I do not work in a lab these days, but I do meet a lot of people who do, from wide variety of labs and disciplines too. From academic researchers in universities, to contract researchers in more commercial settings, to quality managers in industrial labs.
Having the opportunity to meet so many people in so many organizations means that I have the perfect opportunity to understand the different challenges that need to be overcome and to help many people make changes that make a difference. The sheer scale of the potential and breadth of contact drives me to capitalize on the chance to help strip resource use and energy burdens from a wide reaching field of influence, and not just in the UK where I am based, but across Europe too, as far afield a Turkey and Russia.
Albert Einstein summed it up perfectly when he said that compounding returns are the eighth wonder of the world. Showing someone how they can strip 50% of the plastic out of a task that they perform every day without changing their task is my way of adding my contribution to the pool of Sustainability Capital that will go on to reap compounding future returns. For every person that adopts new, more sustainable practices now has the tools and information to influence somebody else, at the very least they can lead by example.
In the last 90 years the population of planet Earth has tripled. In one human life span there are now three times the number of humans consuming resources, producing waste, and generally stomping on the planet. The pace of change is overwhelming and so is the sense of urgency I feel, NOW is the time to do something, inaction is not an option if we want our grandchildren to enjoy the world as we have. The countryside of my childhood is sadly gone, the Corncrakes no longer have hay meadows for nesting and the trout streams are green with fertilizer runoff.
This sense of urgency is what drives me.
What is the most interesting thing you learned while becoming a My Green Lab Ambassador?
The scope of what is possible has been the biggest revelation for me. Since embarking on a sustainability journey, with My Green Lab as a partner, I have learned of many ways that we, as individuals, can contribute to positive change. My Green lab provides individuals with the knowledge and motivation to take personal responsibility for their actions, often shining a light on aspects of sustainability that would have otherwise remained in the dark.
My Green lab looks at every aspect of sustainability in the lab. From materials to energy, from personal practices to systems design, from small everyday actions by individuals to sweeping organizational culture changes.
How has the My Green Lab Ambassador Program enriched your sustainability journey?
By far, it is the community that My Green Lab fosters that has enriched my journey - apart from the expertise, the people are its biggest asset. A mutually supportive and motivated community that is striving every day to push the boundaries of positive change. I have probably been about for more years than most of the people I meet in my role, and one thing I have learned is that the world is made up of people, not places. The My Green Lab community is a rich, diverse and committed community that I am very happy to be associated with.
What are your 2021 sustainability goals?
My sustainability goals for 2021 are, in broad outline, very similar to my sustainability goals for 2022, 2023, 2024……to meet as many people as possible and to help them make changes that make a difference, to push the needle in the right direction, no matter how small the nudge. To continue to learn, to keep an open mind and most importantly, to do some something positive.
I want to hear as many stories as possible, to talk to and learn from people in my day to day endeavors. So please, do reach out at Tim.firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to learn about what you do and how you strive to make a difference.
Introducing sustainability to the community responsible for the world’s life-changing medical and technical innovations through transformative programs and education is our mission at My Green Lab, but working towards creating a culture of sustainability through science is truly a team effort. Everyone in the lab community — from scientists to the people who support or work with laboratories at organizations large and small — has the power to spread the word about why sustainability matters. And it turns out, when they do, great things happen.
Sustainability begins with an awareness of the impact of our actions, and there is no better way to spread awareness than by harnessing the power of your community and sharing what you know to help achieve a greener world.
Why Community Matters
Why does community matter so much overall? “It is most important to share one’s personal thoughts and actions on sustainability with others because we have the most impact and influence over our own community,” says Christina Greever, My Green Lab’s Sustainability Program Manager. “Our hearts and minds can be more easily moved by those closest to us. This is why we shouldn’t be shy about sharing our own lab sustainability goals – and successes – with others in our network. For someone who is on the fence about sustainability, hearing from a friend or colleague in their own community about the ease of making sustainable actions can make a huge difference.”
The old adage “it takes a village” is precise for a reason - when motivated by energetic and passionate individuals, a confident community forms, one that works towards, and achieves, collective goals. “The world is made up of people, not places,” says Tim Dillon, European Product Manager at Mettler-Toledo Rainin, and a My Green Lab Ambassador. “Harnessing the power of collective action for change is our superpower, the task we face now is to turn that superpower towards sustainable choices,” he continues. “Positive action starts with the individual decision to act, the knowledge to act wisely, and the fortitude to persist. This cycle is magnified by the power of community, and as a community grows, so does its power for good, as individuals within a community continue to learn and grow in their understanding.”
The strength of a community also fosters accountability and creativity - important factors that can help drive action and build trust amongst colleagues. “Not only does a well-organized community promote accountability, but it also enables the generation of new ideas and restores lost motivation that, on an individual level, is hardly possible. Creating and fostering shared experiences can be a powerful driver to promote sustainable science,” says Namrata Jain, My Green Lab’s Marketing Consultant.
Using Your Voice
While building strong communities is the foundation for successful execution of sustainable goals, it’s important to communicate those goals effectively. Cintia Milagre, Assistant Professor at the Institute of Chemistry at University Estadual Paulista in Brazil and a My Green Lab Ambassador, elaborates: “Community achieves together more than any one could achieve alone. However, from my experience, the utmost meaningful action is to engage all community members, from faculty, staff, students, directors to the cleaning agents, by explaining what and why the changes are happening. Talk to them, listen to their suggestions, and take them into account when appropriate. Everyone needs to understand the importance of greening actions truly. Do not just communicate them without explanation. That is the key to failure."
Greever continues by explaining that how you use your voice also matters. “Scientists don’t always realize the power of their voices within the scientific sector – your purchasing decisions matter; where you choose to travel for conferences (or how) matters; your sustainable actions at the lab bench matter; what you discuss with suppliers and sales reps matters. Collectively, the voice of scientists could be enormous, and the lab sustainability movement has been working for years to bring those voices together into a loud chorus that will change how science is done.”
How to Build and Grow Community
Bringing voices together is a core tenet of My Green Lab’s mission, and building community through programs like the My Green Lab Ambassador Program and Green Lab Certification helps establish a culture of sustainability within organizations and beyond.
“I think one of the really amazing things about our programs is how they can start from leadership at any level in an organization,” says James Connelly, My Green Lab’s CEO. “Often, our relationship with a large multinational pharma company or university will start with interest from a single interested scientist. Then, once the project certifies, other people in the organization start to notice and we start a larger global project. That is really the power of community at work!”
Engaging in the power of community and connecting with like-minded individuals has never been easier. To begin your journey, connect with champions of sustainability through the My Green Lab Ambassador Program, or follow My Green Lab on LinkedIn and Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter to stay connected.