Sustainable Laboratories

working in the lab

Many of these research activities require specialist equipment or ventilation, making labs responsible for around 60% of the University's total energy consumption and carbon emissions.

To address this, we have created the Sustainable Labs programme which specifically focuses on energy reduction and sustainability in labs.

We encourage and support best practice so that sustainability becomes an integral part of everyday lab work.

 

 

How are we doing?

Achievements to date include replacing inefficient ultra-low temperature freezers and glass drying cabinets with energy-efficient sustainable units.

These replacements already save up to 615 MWh electricity and 188 tonnes of carbon per year and cut running costs by up to 72%.

 

Receive our e-newsletter

We produce an occasional e-newsletter for everyone interested in laboratories and sustainability. So sign up if you would like to receive updates on various topics including project and funding opportunities, workshops and new resources. Just email stefanie.reiss@admin.ox.ac.uk and put ‘SUBSCRIBE’ in the subject line.


Love your lab!

Find out below about how to be more sustainable in your lab space. Please raise awareness - many researchers may not be aware of where savings can be made and will appreciate your advice and encouragement.

Six simple ways to make your lab more sustainable

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Do you know that shutting a fume cupboard sash reduces its air flow, energy consumption and carbon emissions by up to 40%?

  • So always close your fume cupboard sash when not in use and reduce the amount of heated or cooled air escaping the room.
  • Use our shut the sash stickers.

Be conscious of what and how much you use.

  • 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.
  • Avoid disposable sterile plastics if possible.
  • Consider which samples you really need to keep and for how long, and label accordingly. Are you making the best use of storage space?

Before buying new equipment, think about what is already available. Most departments list their equipment and research facilities in this online searchable database.  

Sharing equipment has lots of benefits:

  • Share the cost - use existing equipment or make yours available to other departments for a small fee.
  • Share the space - less equipment means more space.
  • Share the joy - meet other researchers working with similar methods.
  • Save time - if you use existing equipment you do not need to worry about purchasing procedures and delivery times.

Freezers use a lot of energy - using space efficiently means fewer new ones need to be added. 

  • Label samples, including expiry date, and clear out old samples regularly.
  • Keep fridges and freezers clean and organised to ensure they keep your samples safe for years to come.
  • Don't store items on top of freezers - it reduces the air circulation that freezers need to work efficiently.
  • Report any issues like heavy icing, broken seals or dirty filters to the freezer manager.
  • Use our new freezer stickers.

Check if others can make use of your unwanted chemicals and equipment

Find out how to dispose of items in the safest and most sustainable way:

Green Impact is our main sustainability engagement programme. It provides simple and effective ways for staff and students to improve the sustainable practices of their building, department, college and, of course, labs.

As part of Green Impact, we have created a special category dedicated to laboratories. Green Impact Labs contains best practice ideas to get you started and covers all areas including energy, materials, water and waste. 

Impressive individual projects are already underway, saving many tonnes of carbon.

If you do decide to create or join a team and have a go, Green Impact Labs will recognise all the great things you’re already doing. The programme will also provide plenty of ideas for ‘next steps’ to increase your lab’s future sustainability.

You’ll be rewarded!  Note all your fantastic actions down in your Green Impact workbook to collect points for your team. Your achievements will then be recognised and celebrated at the University’s annual Sustainability Showcase.

Take a look and be inspired today

SIGN UP TO GREEN IMPACT LABS

This is a growing area and we will share more resources with you over time. In the meantime, you may find these simple steps helpful:  

Equipment specific guidance

Freezer best practice - we have created some stickers 'How to keep your freezer healthy' with some easy to follow tips. If you would like these for your lab please email sustainability@admin.ox.ac.uk.
 

Freezer stickers

Embark on a journey towards cleaner, greener and safer labs

  • Place "shut the sash" stickers on fume hoods.
  • Add automatic timer switches or programme equipment using built-in functions where possible and safe to do so.
  • Replace toxic chemicals with green alternatives where possible and safe to do so.
  • Choose greener lab supplies.
  • Share equipment with other groups or departments.

Energy monitoring

If you would like to monitor the energy consumption of your equipment, we can provide energy meters for this purpose. Please email stefanie.reiss@admin.ox.ac.uk


Resources

We are currently developing best practice guides and sustainability training materials for lab managers and students to use and share.  We will share all our resources as they become available here and on our Sustainability Resources page.

DOWNLOAD OUR SUSTAINABLE LABS POSTER

 

Stickers

Freezer stickers

'How to keep your freezer healthy' stickers

Switch Off stickers

'Switch off' stickers

 

Sash sticker one
Sash Sticker Red Zone

Fume cupboard stickers (Shut the sash)

 

If you would like to have some stickers for your lab please email sustainability@admin.ox.ac.uk


Sharepoint folder for staff and students

Please find our internal database for sharing resources here: University Sustainable Labs Sharepoint folder (accessible with your single sign-on details).

Currently the Sharepoint folder contains:

  • presentations from Sustainable Labs Events
  • videos from the Chemistry Green Impact team 

Please let us know if you have anything you would be happy to share with other lab managers and lab users. 


Equipment Replacement Programme

The Carbon Management Fund supports the replacement of old and inefficient equipment with new energy-efficient sustainable units.

Current initiatives

Ultra-low temperature (ULT) freezers

ULT freezers use a lot of energy. If you are thinking about buying a new freezer, or replacing one of your old units, feel free to contact Steffi for advice on energy efficiency and the sustainable freezer scheme.

All old-glass drying cabinets across the estate have been replaced with what is currently the greenest model on the market. For advice on further purchases of glass drying cabinets please email stefanie.reiss@admin.ox.ac.uk .


 

Share your ideas

We are always open to new ideas to make labs more sustainable and want to support you in your efforts as much as possible. We not only have resources to help you on your way but some funding may also be available. For more information contact Steffi Reiss, Sustainability Projects Manager for Lab Optimisation at stefanie.reiss@admin.ox.ac.uk.

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Share lab equipment by visiting our online database

SEARCH HERE

 

Get in touch


Steffi Reiss
Sustainability Projects Manager for Laboratory Optimisation 
stefanie.reiss@admin.ox.ac.uk

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