According to UT Utilities and Energy Management, lab buildings at UT consume approximately 32% of the energy used on campus but only account for about 21% of the campus footprint. Providing energy for UT lab building produces more than 80,000 metric tons per year, equivalent to burning over 9 million gallons of gasoline (EPA)!
Luckily, there are many ways we can help reduce energy consumption of labs on campus. Check out the tips below for some easy ways to help reduce energy consumption in your lab. For further specifics and more information on how to conserve energy in your lab, check out our Green Labs Manual.
Always consult the Principal Investigator (PI) of the lab before implementing any changes.
- Shut the sash! One of the best ways to conserve energy in the lab (and maintain a safe lab) is to close the fume hood sash when no one is working in the fume hood.
- Safely defrost (DO NOT use heat guns, ice picks, chisels, screwdrivers, or other sharp tools) freezers at least once a year or when ice accumulation is greater than 3/8 in. thick. The accumulation of ice makes freezers less energy efficient. See here for tips on how to safely defrost your freezer. Contact Environmental Health and Safety (512-471-3511) with questions.
- Consider turning your ultra-low temperature freezer (ULT) to -70 ℃ to reduce energy consumption and increase the life of your freezer. For more information on setting ULT freezers to -70 ℃, check out this information from CU Boulder, which includes a database of biological samples that have been successfully stored at -70 ℃.
- Use an outlet timer to turn off equipment during non-use times if possible.
- Establish end-of-day procedures for your lab to ensure you are not wasting energy in an unoccupied lab. End-of-day procedures can be as simple as creating a rotating schedule of which lab member is in charge of turning off items such as hot water baths, heating blocks, computers, and lights and ensuring fume hood sashes are shut at the end of each day.
- Additional Resources
- Biological samples stored at -70 ℃- A database compiled by scientists at CU Boulder, UC Davis, and other universities of biological samples being stored at -70 ⁰C. From the CU Boulder Green Labs website: “Please note that this database is not science-based data on appropriate temperatures for samples, though these temperatures have been successful for various labs for years.”
- The University of Colorado- Boulder Green Labs Program has metered lab equipment including vacuum pumps, refrigerators, ultra-low temperature freezer, biosafety cabinets, and much more. To find out just home much energy some lab equipment and instruments use, check out their spreadsheet here.
- “Plug load test for ULT Freezers: 20-22% lower energy consumption at -70 ºC compared to -80 ºC” (PDF)- A study from the University of Copenhagen.
- Laboratories for the 21st Century: An Introduction to Low-Energy Design (PDF)- A publication by the EPA on energy-efficient strategies for designing and equipping laboratories.