The Office of Sustainability wants to to provide you with all the resources necessary to help you earn a Green Lab designation. Keep reading to learn about everything you can do relating to purchasing, energy consumption/equipment maintenance, water conservation, lab recycling, chemicals/safety, and culture of sustainability to help your lab go green!
Your lab can be more sustainable by utilizing in-house supply rooms such as the Dietrich School Stockroom and the Department of Biological Science Stockroom. These stockrooms make bulk purchases that help cut down on emissions created from having multiple smaller orders shipped at different times. They also offer fast delivery to campus locations using electric trucks!
If you buy new supplies try shopping with green suppliers on PantherExpress. If your lab uses liquid nitrogen or helium, you can purchase it right on campus through Shared Research Support Services. Check out this info about Pitt’s Helium Recovery Program and how to get involved!
Your lab can work with EH&S to donate or purchase chemicals in inventory for redistribution through the Chemical Redistribution Program. You should also check the EH&S inventory list before purchasing new chemicals as there are often chemicals that have never been opened that can be requested for your use completely free of charge.
To reduce shipping and packaging, consider consolidating purchases into one big order and only shipping overnight when necessary.
You should also consider stocking your printers with TreeZero paper or minimum 30% recycled paper for all internal printing and minimum 50% recycled paper for all external printing. If you want to reduce your footprint even more, you can use 100% recycled content paper for everything.
To help reduce waste, your lab should try to minimize the use disposable bottles and non-reusable lecture bottles for exotic gases.
Check out Pitt’s other sustainable purchasing resources here.
Energy Consumption/Equipment Maintenance
There are a lot of things you can do to save energy regarding your refrigerators and freezers. Consider sharing ultra-low temperature (ULT) freezers with other labs to save money, space, and energy! If you are looking into purchasing a new ULT freezer, consider purchasing a Stirling or TSX ULT freezer. To save energy, you should consider utilizing a remote monitoring system to tell when doors have been left open.
You should also be sure that your appliances utilize natural refrigerants and that you annually vacuum and clean the condenser on all refrigerators and freezers. Learn more about defrosting and vacuuming here!
Lastly for freezers, you should definitely consider moving your ULT set point up from -80 to -70. Read more information about if it is safe your lab to chill up here.
Educate your lab members about the shutting the sash on fume hoods and get stickers to remind them.
Your lab can save water by reducing single pass water cooling by either installing a recirculation loop or purchasing recirculating water baths/chillers.
Be sure that all autoclaves and dishwashers are only run with full loads and are on standby mode when not in use. You can also purchase a water efficient autoclave or install a water mizer on your current autoclave to save water.
In general, be sure to use water conservatively when washing, report leaks to Facilities in a timely matter, use the appropriate type of water for each application, and you can even go the extra mile by installing a low flow aerator on your faucets!
There are a variety of recycling programs on Pitt’s campus that your lab can participate in such as single-stream recycling, composting, textile recycling, battery recycling, handheld electronic device recycling, large e-waste, toner & ink cartridge recycling, fluorescent lamp recycling, and more. You can learn about all of these programs and how to get involved here!
Beyond these programs your lab should try to make styrofoam-free purchases. Furthermore, you can participate in glove recycling programs available on campus. Learn more about the pilot glove recycling program here!
Be sure your lab makes efforts to limit the volumes of chemical wastes generate and scale down experiments when appropriate. To help avoid incidents, your lab should create standard operating procedures for common higher risk experiments.
If applicable, your lab should make sure all electronic equipment is made with RoHS compliant materials.
Your lab should use mercury free thermometers as well and mercury and metal-halide free microscope light bulbs.
Your lab should only purchase chemicals in the smallest quantity needed and use the EH&S Chemical Waste Program to properly dispose of chemical wastes.
Culture of Sustainability
To improve the culture of sustainability in your lab, be sure everyone is familiar with the Pitt Sustainability website, have one person in your office designated as the sustainability “expert”, and familiarize yourself with the Pitt Staff Green Guide.
Also, try to include discussions on sustainability topics in your meetings, adopt a vision statement to reflect how your workplace can integrate sustainability into your everyday practices, and encourage staff and faculty to take part in sustainability events, lectures, and service opportunities on and off-campus.
Be sure to set all printers to default double-sided gray scale printing and use Electronic Research notebooks when possible. Your lab should also encourage the use of reusable bottles and coffee cups (outside of the lab).
Lastly, you should encourage staff to reduce or eliminate activities that contribute to producing ground level ozone on “Code Orange” air quality action days.
Office of Sustainability – email@example.com
Pitt Sustainability Leaders – https://www.sustainable.pitt.edu/contact/
Facilities – https://www.fm.pitt.edu/
Other Programs & Resources
A number of lab sustainability efforts are already in pilot; learn more:
- Chill Up Your ULT Freezer
- Shut Your Sash
- Medline Glove Recycling Pilot
- Millipore Sigma Water Filter Cartridge Recycling
- Specialty Recycling
- University of Pittsburgh Parking & Transportation Green Initiatives
- US EPA Energy Star Settings