Laboratories are one of the primary waste generators at universities around the world. Using roughly 4 times more energy than office spaces of the same size, laboratories have an enormous impact on a university's energy use. With the University of Washington receiving the most grant money of any public institution in the United States - and harboring over 4,500 laboratories on campus alone - it is time for us to lead the way in implementing sustainable laboratory practices.
The Climate Action Plan calls for the establishment of a department-level reporting tool (Strategy 2.3.1) and for the availability of general guidelines for UW faculty, staff and students (Strategy 7.4.2), both of which the Green Laboratory Certification Program supports. In addition to aligning with these strategies, the impact of the program's criteria helps reduce carbon emissions and conserve water and energy resources.
The Green Laboratory Certification at the University of Washington encourages staff, faculty, and students to make their laboratories and workplaces more sustainable. Members of any lab from any department can participate by undergoing an informal review of their practices.
To apply for certification, lab members simply fill out the online application (this typically takes 20-25 mins). This short online survey allows them to see what steps they are already taking to be green and where they can improve. It covers topics from several action-based categories, such as Energy Usage, Communication, Waste, Chemical Usage, Water Usage, Work-Related Travel, and more.
The Green Laboratory Program was initiated by UW Sustainability in an effort to minimize the environmental impact of laboratories at the University of Washington. The Green Laboratory Certification Committee formed in Fall 2012 to develop the certification criteria and create resources to assist laboratories in their green efforts.
The committee was led by the a student Certification Coordinator and was comprised of members with varied expertise in laboratory operations, environmental health and safety, recycling, purchasing, and supplies.
UW Sustainability also worked with the Program on the Environment to offer ENVIR 480, a hands-on course focused on green laboratories. The students' projects for the class - which included a shopping list of environmentally-friendly laboratory products, a newsletter, a logo and more - were later integrated into the Certification Program. The program was officially launched in Spring 2013, helping the university achieve its conservation goals as outlined in the Climate Action Plan.
The Green Labs team sends out occasional updates on resources and information for UW lab workers and anyone interested in sustainable lab practices. Check out past newsletter issues:
Spotlight: Physics Instrument Shop
Energy Use Tips
Husky Grind Coffee
Spotlight: Wind River Field Station
Spring Cleaning Tips
Fieldwork and Work-Related Travel Tips
Lab Recycling Guide
I2SL UW Student Chapter
Save the Date: Earth Day!
Spotlight: DEOHS Green Seed Project
New Green Labs Coordinator
Green Comes Naturally to Leopold Lab
Lab Recycling Guide
More past issues can be found here: Fall 2014