Lab equipment guide

Energy-efficient cryostat

A researcher at the Pharmacology department using their new energy-efficient cryostat, purchased through the sustainability funding scheme

 

Do you want to use your lab equipment more sustainably? This guide provides information about how to do this, and resources to help you. Follow the links for more information, or email us with any questions.

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What can you do?

  • Switch off equipment where possible and safe, particularly at weekends and overnight.
  • You can use automatic functions or fit simple plug-in timers in case of regular hours of use.
  • Use an energy meter to monitor how much electricity your equipment uses.
  • Share equipment and consider what’s available on the equipment sharing database or on WARPit before buying something new.
  • If you need to purchase new equipment, include energy efficiency in your selection criteria.
  • Recycle surplus equipment through WARPit (reuse internally), or the UniGreenScheme (external asset resale service).

Resources available

Did you know?

  • A typical new ultra-low temperature (ULT) freezer will consume as much energy in a year as the average UK household; older models up to four times that. 
  • A freezer runs about 10% more efficiently after a full defrost. 

What can you do?

  • Label samples, including expiry date, and regularly clear out old ones. 
  • Keep fridges and freezers clean and organised to ensure they keep your samples safe for years to come. 
  • Keep door openings as short as possible – warm moist air entering the freezer will build up as frost, reducing freezer performance and sample safety.
  • Report any issues like heavy icing, broken seals or dirty filters to the freezer manager.

Resources

Did you know?

  • Fume cupboards are among the most energy-hungry types of equipment – an average unit consumes as much as 3.5 average UK households.
  • Shutting a fume cupboard sash reduces its air flow, energy consumption and carbon emissions by up to 40%!

What can you do?

  • Always close your fume cupboard sash when you leave the room.
  • Keep items in the fume hood at least 10cm apart and remove unnecessary items – it’s not safe otherwise!
  • Don’t use fume cupboards for storage – use ventilated cabinets instead, which only use ~1% of the energy of a fume cupboard.

Resources

Did you know?

  • You pay twice for your chemicals and consumables: once at purchase, and then again at disposal

What can you do?

  • Plan ahead to use the minimum amount of chemicals and samples. Check if your chemical is already available and order only as much as you need. Can you place orders together with others to reduce deliveries?
  • Replace hazardous chemicals with greener alternatives if you can
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle!
  • Ask your supplier about their sustainability schemes, greener product alternatives and packaging

Resources

Best practice guidance for labs


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+44 (0) 1865 6 14605

sustainability@admin.ox.ac.uk