Dakota Delong-Maxey, Office for Sustainability Green Labs Intern

The goal of Green Labs is to promote safe and sustainable practices in research labs at UVA. One of the easiest things a lab can do is shut their chemical fume hood sash when not in use to protect lab occupants and save building energy use. Every October, Green Labs runs a “Shut the Sash” competition where labs can win prizes for meeting goals in fume hood management*. 

This year, two labs qualified for and won free cupcakes to celebrate their achievements!

  • The Owens lab in MR5 | School of Medicine, Cardiovascular Research Center
  • The Letteri lab in Wilsdorf Hall | School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Chemical Engineering 

Labs with sash sensors were able to set a sash goal and strive to meet it while other participating labs were able to compete by filling out an informative questionnaire. Labs could also earn points by sharing best practice information with neighboring research groups. The Owens lab helped spread the word about chemical fume safety by emailing lab neighbors sustainability resources. Each competing group that submitted material was able to meet or exceed their goals and qualified for raffle entry!

Eight students working in the Letteri lab smile for the camera in front of one of two chemical fume hoods in their research lab.
The Letteri Lab studies polymers in Wilsdorf Hall and maintained an average sash position of 3.4% open in the month of October.

Despite an active month of research, the Letteri Lab reduced their sash position by 50%. Collectively, the Letteri, Li, and Ford labs in Wilsdorf Hall were able to achieve a 51% reduction in average sash position during the month of October. If these labs continue this practice, they alone could save more than $2200 per year in energy costs. With 52 chemical fume hoods, Wilsdorf Hall has the potential to save an estimated $20,000 per year in utility costs if all labs replicated these same management techniques. Simple but intentional change really can make a difference!

 Green Labs is looking forward to doing this again next year, and congratulations to our winners!

The Owens Lab in MR submitted photos of their chemical fume hoods. Here, a “Before” photo demonstrates how shared spaces can quickly become filled with materials being used in multiple research projects.*
The Owens Lab in MR submitted photos of their chemical fume hoods. Here, a “Before” photo demonstrates how shared spaces can quickly become filled with materials being used in multiple research projects.*
In their “After” photos, the Owens Lab demonstrates how an organized chemical fume hood makes materials more easily accessible and therefore safer for the researcher working in the hood.*
In their “After” photos, the Owens Lab demonstrates how an organized chemical fume hood makes materials more easily accessible and therefore safer for the researcher working in the hood.*

*Labs are advised to contact UVA Environmental Health and Safety with any questions regarding chemical and fume hood safety.