EPA finalizes rule cutting use of potent greenhouse gas used in refrigeration

Read the full story at The Hill.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday is finalizing a rule aimed at significantly cutting the use of a type of greenhouse gases called hydrofluorocarbons that are used in refrigeration. 

Hydrofluorocarbons, also known as HFCs, can have up to 14,800 times the climate impact of carbon dioxide. 

The new EPA rule, first proposed in May, aims to reduce their use by 85 percent compared to a baseline number over the next 15 years.

NIEHS helps NIH take top honors in International Freezer Challenge

Read the full story at Environmental Factor.

NIEHS efforts to store research samples more sustainably helped the National Institutes of Health (NIH) win the Top Government Organization Award in the 2021 International Freezer Challenge for the second year in a row. The Freezer Challenge is a cold storage competition for laboratories, and it is run by My Green Lab and the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories, both of which are nonprofit organizations.

One scientist’s trash is another’s treasure: A laboratory’s “irritating” byproduct now supplies 2-D materials research

Read the full story from Ames Laboratory.

While making materials samples to pursue their own research goals, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory discovered that an unwanted byproduct of their experiments was an extremely high-quality and difficult-to-obtain substance sought after by scientists researching layered materials…The resulting research has been featured in Nature CommunicationsNature, and Science.

Old-school computing: when your lab PC is ancient

Read the full story in Nature.

Antiquated computers are common in science, from geochemistry and linguistics to biochemistry and microscopy. Often an old computer is hooked up to an expensive piece of scientific kit — a microscope or chromatography system, for instance — with software that is incompatible with newer computers or too expensive to upgrade. Sometimes the old computer just refuses to die, or is so in demand that it’s impractical to decommission it for long enough to upgrade it.

Top 9 actions to take in the lab to improve water efficiency

Read the full story at My Green Lab.

Water is an often overlooked part of lab sustainability. It pours forth from the tap and then disappears down the drain. It’s nearly invisible. But it isn’t free – it comes from somewhere and it has to be cleaned, transported, stored, and cleaned again before being returned to the environment. All of that has an enormous energy and carbon footprint. 

Many laboratories require substantial amounts of water to operate. From autoclaves and glassware washers to purified water systems and faucets, the flow of water in laboratories is constant. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways you can reduce water usage. Like energy efficiency, water efficiency is possible by taking actions in the lab to become more sustainable. 

Below, we’ve outlined 9 actions you can take (starting today!) to reduce water usage in the lab.  

Science has a garbage problem. Why aren’t recycling schemes more popular?

Read the full story at Massive Science.

Research institutions need to reflect on their attitudes toward plastic waste and make sustainability a priority in laboratories

Webinar: Smart Tools for Smart Labs

Tue, Mar 2, 2021 2-3 pm CST
Register here.

A Smart Labs Program provides a proven approach to help enhance laboratory performance, mitigate safety and health risks, reduce energy, and improve ventilation. This webinar will share helpful publicly available tools for putting together a team, assessing laboratory functions, and optimizing operation. Attendees will also hear a case study from a university that successfully implemented a Smart Labs Program. Learn from Better Buildings Smart Labs partners experiences crossing the finish line, and what they expect is next for laboratory efficiency.

How DIY technologies are democratizing science

Read the full story in Nature.

Open science and 3D printing are making it easier than ever for researchers to embrace do-it-yourself lab tools.

More than 20 Campus Laboratories Help the U of I Win the International Laboratory Freezer Challenge for a Third Straight Year

Read the full story from the University of Illinois.

Keeping laboratory samples cold can be an essential part of research activities and ensuring the safety and integrity of projects and experiments. As a Tier One research university, the numerous refrigerators, freezers, and cooling equipment used at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign also present a significant opportunity to further energy conservation efforts.

Winning the “hat trick,” the U of I was honored by the International Laboratory Freezer Challenge as one of the top universities at implementing cold-storage best management practices and reducing energy usage for a third straight year. Twenty-one labs on campus combined to save approximately 263 kWh/day, which is the equivalent energy use of nine average households.

Why Aren’t Academic Sustainable Lab Programs Gaining More Traction?

Read the full story in Lab Manager.

Scientific research can have an enormous carbon footprint. Ecologists at the University of Exeter estimated in 2015 that research labs worldwide produce around 5.5 million metric tons of plastic waste per year, twice the total amount of plastic recycled in the United States in 2017, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. According to the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings initiative, laboratories can account for up to 70 percent of a campus’s energy footprint. As concerns about human impacts on the environment become increasingly urgent, many universities are starting programs to help labs become more sustainable—but achieving widespread participation is no easy feat.