Green Labs

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UVA's Dutta Lab posing for their Green Lab Certification photo
The Green Labs program, started in 2016, helped focus and lead efforts to assess and improve lab sustainability at UVA. The subsequent success and expansion of the program has created new opportunities for students to contribute to Green Labs initiatives around Grounds, including positions for two Green Lab interns. Read more to hear about how Dakota and Pumoli have helped transform the Green Labs program.
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lab occupant working with blue tubes inside of a UVA lab
At the University of Virginia, a competitive research environment is our petri dish for testing friendly lab-to-lab competition aimed at reducing environmental impacts of research. UVA Green Labs hosts three annually recurring programs: The International Laboratory Freezer Challenge each Spring, a Shut the Sash fume hood competition in October, and a comprehensive year-long Certification Program. Through these competitive programs, labs are improving their operations, conserving lab resources, and earning rewards (with bragging rights, for some).
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Graduate researcher, Mara Kuenen, shuts the sash on a lab chemical fume hood to improve occupant safety and reduce loss of conditioned lab air.
The goal of Green Labs is to promote safe and sustainable practices in research at UVA. One of the best things that lab personnel 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 are able to win prizes for meeting goals in fume hood management.
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Our “Pilot Lab Program” sought to combine both approaches and study the true potential of holistic Green Labs programming that addresses both building and user aspects of research efficiency. 

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Looking around your lab feeling overwhelmed by the landfill load and hum of numerous appliances? You are not alone!

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Students working together at the School of Architecture

The Office for Sustainability hosts sustainability programs and services that help address UVA’s environmental footprint through buildings & operations as well as pan-university sustainability engagement and communications programs to accelerate sustainability awareness and action. To learn more about a specific program or service, please email sustainability@virginia.edu

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Researcher working in a lab with beakers and glassware

Green Labs

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?

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Cabell Courtyard with grey skies and greenery

Land & Buildings

With over 550 buildings encompassing over 17 million square feet, the University of Virginia has the opportunity to use the operation of its facilities to demonstrate a strong commitment to sustainability. The design, operation and maintenance of Grounds require significant resources. To ensure UVA’s diversity of buildings are optimized for performance and energy efficiency, UVA works to ensure that new construction and existing buildings are held to robust sustainability standards.

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Jeff Myers
Visit any biology or chemistry laboratory and you will probably find one: a chemical fume hood (CFH). Drawing air from the room, fume hoods vent harmful gases generated during lab experiments away from the researcher and out of the work space by way of the building’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. Although essential for safety, this removal of conditioned air can dramatically drive up energy consumption depending on the fume hood type (constant vs. variable air volume) and average sash position (open or closed). For example, leaving the sash open on a variable air volume (VAV) fume hood is comparable to heating your home in the winter while the windows are left open.