Working "green" (environmentally sensitive, resource-efficient, and socially responsible) in laboratories has become the gold standard in both the Biological Sciences department undergraduate and research labs. Together with My Green Labs, all laboratory work carried out within the Biological Sciences department has adopted 'Green Lab' practices and programs. The aim of this initiative is to reduce the departments laboratories' environmental impact in four key areas – energy, water, waste, and chemical use – through a combination of organisational initiatives and behaviour change programs.
The aims of this initiative are to involve scientists in efforts to minimise environmental impacts, build a culture of sustainability in the lab, advance sustainability goals and identify waste-reduction opportunities. The departments Green team are working closely with UL’s Building & Estate department and has signed up to the ‘Optimising Power at work’ initiative at the University of Limerick.
This initiative is run in conjunction with the Office of Public Works and involves monitoring a number of buildings on Campus for energy efficiency. Among some of the new measures we have introduced includes a traffic light system for electrical equipment where, using coloured stickers, equipment is turned off as soon as its not in use. Ultra-low temperature freezers (ULT, -80°C) are one of the most energy-intensive pieces of equipment found in labs and can be operated more efficiently by implementing simple cold-storage management best practices. Among these measures include an increase of running temperature from -80c to -70c. This change in temperature of 10c results in up to 30% less energy consumption.
The Biological Sciences department are the first labs nationally to include the undergraduate labs and students in the initiative and we will introduce the plan to all new students and returning students starting in Semester 2 2022. The sum of these small changes will lead to a large impact on the sustainability of labs going forward and by focussing on behavioural changes we hope to change of mindset to build on this culture within the laboratories.
The Green Team includes:
Edel Durack (Project leader)