Green Labs

In response to the numerous changes introduced by COVID-19, Green Labs will host once monthly zoom meetings to help you stay connected with our research community. Click to learn more.

Research labs at UVA make up 9% of the University’s physical footprint but are responsible for a quarter of its energy use. Most research institutions experience this imbalance, but why?

Lab buildings are not designed like other buildings— they are equipped with complex ventilation systems intended to protect scientists from airborne contaminants. The addition of large, specialized pieces of equipment make this impact even greater, resulting in a building that uses approximately ten times more energy than an office building. Furthermore, laboratories are full of disposable single-use materials such as nitrile gloves that contribute to an enormous amount of landfill waste. Our scientists are doing research to make the world a safer, healthier place, and UVA Green Labs is here to help achieve that goal in a more sustainable way. Email greenlabs@virginia.edu to learn more!

Certification highlights five key areas where scientists can make a difference: Cold Storage, Chemicals & Reagents, Electronics & Appliances, Materials & Refuse, and Engagement. Verify your sustainable actions through the online Certification Form and get a 3D-printed plaque, plus rewards like having food delivered to your lab.

Lab Plastics Recycling and Do Not Recycle signage posted in a UVA research lab

Participating in annual competitions can decrease your lab’s carbon footprint, enhance safety, win you prizes, and earn credits towards Certification. Every Spring semester from January to May, UVA participates in the International Laboratory Freezer Challenge, and every October, Green Labs hosts our own Shut the Sash competition for chemical fume hoods. Sign up today!

The International Laboratory Freezer Challenge is a semester-long competition within and among research institutions run by the non-profit organizations My Green Lab and the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories. Labs earn points for discarding old samples, decommissioning unnecessary or outdated refrigerators and freezers, implementing inventories, performing preventative maintenance, and more. Make this annual competition part of your lab’s routine to extend the life of your units, keep your lab organized, and lower your carbon footprint.

Shutting your chemical fume hood sash reduces lab occupants’ potential for exposure to harmful chemicals. Additionally, this single action can help limit the loss of conditioned air, therefore yielding significant energy savings; an open chemical fume hood can use as much energy as three and a half homes. For these reasons, the American National Standards Institute and American Industrial Hygiene Association consider it “good work practice” to keep the sash shut when the hood is not in use.

Participating in UVA Sustainability’s annual Shut the Sash competitions each October is great way to remind researchers, old and new, that shutting the sash enhances safety while reducing your carbon footprint. Raffle-winning teams will have free cupcakes delivered to their lab. Register today to participate!

To raise awareness about chemical fume hood safety and energy consumption throughout the year, the Office for Sustainability launched the Physical and Life Sciences Building’s Energy Impact Tracker in 2018. The months following installation showed a 49% improvement in average building sash position!