Illustration of a green cityscape with the U branding

Labs can go green, too

By Life@TheU

Labs can go green, too

By Life@TheU
The University’s Office of Sustainability offers an audit of laboratories to provide insight on how to make a lab more sustainable and green.

In laboratories across the University of Miami, faculty and student researchers work to transform lives in and outside of the classroom. Since many of the labs operate around the clock and typically require specialized ventilation, lighting, or power systems, the spaces are considered energy intensive, often consuming up to five times more energy per square foot than typical offices. 

While increased energy consumption and material usage can present unique sustainability challenges, experts from UM’s Green U are working to help lab managers reduce their environmental footprint. 

In addition to traditional “green office” tips, such as putting computers on sleep mode or having water misers installed on faucets, the University’s Office of Sustainability offers green lab audits to help lab managers get started.

Some researchers, like Karoline Briegel from the Miller School of Medicine, adopted new programs from environmentally-preferred vendors that recycle non-conventional plastic containers, such as pipette tip boxes. Others, like Michelle Afkhami from the department of biology, are pushing the envelope by sharing their energy efficient freezers with colleagues and upcycling common lab devices like balances when they are in good condition; ultimately helping to reduce our waste stream while saving money and resources. 

Here’s what you can do

Learn more about the Green Lab program, including video discussions with principal investigators from some of our most sustainable research laboratories, and schedule a green lab audit by contacting greenu@miami.edu.

Here are some tips for creating a sustainable laboratory:

  • Keep recycling bins close to each counter to make sure glove boxes are not thrown into trash cans. 
  • Save energy by closing the fume hood sash when not in use. 
  • Buy energy conscious brands when replacing equipment and follow maintenance instructions on older equipment to ensure it is working efficiently.

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