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Green Labs Pilot Certification a Success

Professor Kory Lavine, MD, PhD, anesthesia clinical fellow Melissa Hector-Greene, MD, PhD, cardiology instructor Jesus Jimenez , MD, PhD, and fellow Arick Park, MD, PhD, work in Lavine’s lab in the Clinical Sciences Research Building on July 8, 2022. MATT MILLER/WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE

Written by Alicia Hubert and Heather Craig, WUSM Sustainability Team 

Over the past few months, labs across both the Medical Campus and the Danforth Campus have been testing out the new certification checklist for the Green Labs Program. Labs have been able to commit to the program since early 2020, but this is the first time they can analyze their operations and ultimately reach a score to see how “sustainable” their research is. 

A total of 25 labs participated in the pilot certification program and reached scores at all levels: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. 

The general format for the Green Labs Program is based off of, and consistent with, the well-established Green Office Program. The certification process mainly consists of filling out a detailed spreadsheet about the lab’s operations – everything from energy usage, specific equipment operations and maintenance, to greener chemical alternatives, waste reduction, and much more. Our team worked closely with each of the pilot labs to troubleshoot issues, identify solutions, and prepare the checklist for university-wide roll out. 

Now that the pilot certification program is complete and we have received feedback about the process, Green Lab Certification is now available to all WashU labs!  

Steps to become Green Lab Certified 
  1. Elect a Green Lab Liaison. This can be anyone in your lab that is interested in sustainability. 
  1. Download the Green Lab Checklist and work with your lab to complete the checklist. The Green Lab Liaison may need to meet with several people in order to respond to the questions. A kick-off meeting is encouraged to raise awareness about sustainable practices and prepare lab members for participation. You can utilize a staff meeting to set goals as a lab or identify opportunities from within the checklist that you may be able to implement before submissions. The Green Labs Team is available to support your certification process, by providing an initial or supplementary presentation, making recommendations and facilitating goal setting. 
  1. Email greenlabs@wustl.edu to request your customized survey. Portions of the checklist require a response that takes all your lab members into consideration. To help facilitate collecting their responses, we provide a customized survey for these questions and a template to circulate the request. Once at least 75% of lab members respond, our team will input the aggregated responses into the checklist during our review process. Plan to encourage participation at multiple occasions and formats (staff meeting, emails, direct reminders, etc.) to ensure you can get to 75%. Keep in mind, you get bonus points if your team responds at 90% or above!  
  1. Send your checklist to greenlabs@wustl.edu. The Green Labs team will review your completed checklist and confirm your lab’s certification level. The deadline for calendar year 2023 submissions is December 31, 2023.