- What is the Green Laboratory Certification Program?
- What are the levels of Certification?
- How is a Laboratory scored for Certification?
- How does a Laboratory apply for Certification?
- How was the program developed?
What is Green Laboratory Certification?
The Green Laboratory Certification Program 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 audit of their practices.
To get started, lab members simply need to fill out the application, which takes about 25 minutes. 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.
What are the levels of Certification?
Qualifying laboratories are recognized at different levels of certification based on the criteria they meet. The levels of certification are Bronze (55%), Silver (70%), and Gold (85%).
These percentages are calculated by dividing the number of points the laboratory achieves by the total points it is capable of achieving. For example, not every laboratory has a fume hood, so not every laboratory can say "fume hood sashes are kept closed when not in use." Instead of penalizing labs for things that are not applicable to them, the program adjusts the total number of points possible accordingly.
How is a laboratory scored for Certification?
The evaluation has 8 categories and adheres to a point system, with 1-3 points assigned to various office attributes or behaviors and with opportunities for bonus points for extra effort. Based on the feasible actions for each laboratory, certification is awarded according to the following qualifications:
The laboratory must first score 10% or greater in every category, and then achieve an overall percentage of the following for each level:
Bronze - 55-69%
Silver - 70-84%
Gold - 85% +
How does a laboratory apply for Certification?
To apply, a representative from the laboratory in question should be selected as the designated point of contact, and should complete the online application form. The questions are primarily yes or no, and answers may be saved for later. A printable version of the criteria is available if the contact person would like to collaborate with other laboratory members in answering the questions.
If your lab is interested in making sustainability improvements before applying, we also offer resources to help with implementation of most of the criteria.
How was the program developed?
The Green Laboratory Certification Program was initiated by the Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability Office 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 a student intern and was comprised of members with varied expertise in laboratory operations, environmental health and safety, recycling, purchasing, and supplies.
The Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability Office 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.
Green Laboratory Certification Committee:
- Caileigh Shoot, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability – Certification Program Coordinator
- Aubrey Batchelor, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability – Project Manager
- Jennifer Perkins, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability
- Doug Gallucci, Environmental Health & Safety
- John Kelly, Environmental Health & Safety
- Shelly Carpenter, Oceanography
- Christine Aker, Health Sciences
- Christy Cherrier, UW Bothell
- Emily Newcomer, UW Recycling
- Claudia Christensen, UW Purchasing
- Jill Tepe-Stoddard, Green Lab Alliance
Why is the Green Laboratory Program Important?
The Climate Action Plan calls for the establishment of a departmental 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 help reduce carbon emissions and conserve water and energy resources.