The challenge to science funders to increase research capacity with sustainability savings

Read the full story at Labconscious.

Research funding agencies are on the path to providing guidance and incorporating sustainability language into grant applications. On top of the ultimate good to protect our environment and health – best practices reduce costs and increase lab productivity. Shouldn’t biomedical research labs qualify for sustainability-specific incentives, too?

The Million Advocates for Sustainable Science campaign from My Green Lab and the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL) is a letter-signing campaign that issues a challenge to science funders around the world to encourage sustainability best practices in research operations. It’s a way for scientists to directly demonstrate support.

Energy crisis squeezes science at CERN and other major facilities

Read the full story in Nature.

As energy prices spike as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, possibly causing a global economic downturn and stoking fears of rolling blackouts — especially in Europe — science laboratories are not being spared. The situation has raised particular alarm at CERN, Europe’s particle-physics lab outside Geneva, Switzerland, which already has massive energy bills in normal years.

On 26 September, CERN’s governing council agreed to significantly reduce the facility’s energy consumption in 2022 and 2023, after Électricité de France (EDF), a French electricity supplier, asked the lab to decrease the load on its network. The council decided to bring forward the lab’s annual year-end technical stop by two weeks, to 28 November, and to reduce operations by 20% in 2023 — which will be accomplished mostly by shutting down four weeks early next year, in mid-November. Operations will resume as planned at the end of February, in both 2023 and 2024.

CERN has also developed plans with EDF for reduced power configurations, in case energy use needs to be limited further in the coming months. Smaller measures are being taken to reduce overall energy use on the CERN campus, including switching off street lighting at night and delaying the start of building heating by one week.

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.