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Green Labs Program Launches at WashU

Accounting for over 1.6 million square feet of campus space and using between 2.5 and 5 times the amount of energy as office spaces, labs represent an important opportunity to reduce the university’s carbon emissions and expand our multi-faceted effort to address climate change. Building upon the success of the Green Office Program, WashU is launching a new initiative focused on lab operations. The Green Labs program addresses practices around energy, water, chemicals, waste, and purchasing. Labs can get involved now by filling out a commitment form and starting to browse the suite of resources offered by the program.

Last year, over 230 labs participated in a survey, which provided a great baseline for the status of equipment efficiency, energy use, waste portfolios, and much more information relevant to lab operations and their resulting environmental impacts. Most encouraging was the dozens of respondents that described grass roots sustainability initiatives taking place in their labs. Some labs collect plastic bags and take them to local stores for recycling, another collects and delivers their EPS (“Styrofoam”) coolers for recycling, and much more.

Overall, over 90% of labs reported that their lab members are interested in making more sustainable choices, which only reinforced the need and opportunity for a lab-specific program.

The Green Labs program includes the High-efficiency Ultra Low Temperature Freezer Policy, which was implemented in March of 2019. Since the adoption of this policy, over 60% of new ULT freezer purchases have been high-efficiency. Compared with purchasing traditional freezers, these high-efficiency units have reduced energy consumption by nearly 128,000 kWh so far – the equivalent of taking 19 cars off the road for an entire year! These energy savings will continue to compound as new high-efficiency units replace old energy hogs. The policy is expected to reduce WashU’s CO2 emissions by about 2,000 metric tons over time.

Interested in getting your lab involved?

An example of signage available to committed Green Labs.

Start by committing to the Green Labs program by filling out a quick form. Once that’s done, you can use the resources to start making changes. Free signage is available upon request to remind lab members how to correctly sort and recycle non-hazardous waste, make smart energy-usage decisions, and more.

The 20+ page Green Labs Guide is your one-stop resource for recommendations regarding energy, water, chemical use, waste, purchasing, in the lab and beyond. Download the guide now and share with your lab members!

Keep an eye out for the upcoming launch party event early in the spring semester!

Questions? Email