The laboratory can be a high energy intensive place, and lab planners continually face the challenge of delivering the best possible equipment and personnel protection while seeking cost savings and energy efficiency for lab sustainability. Research labs are often the largest utility consumers at a research university, on average using more than twice the energy of other buildings on campus. Becoming more aware of their impact, many laboratories are seeking to reduce their environmental footprint, often employing a more sustainable green lab approach. This encourages increased awareness and participation of all personnel in sustainable laboratory practices, with a goal of optimizing efficiency while reducing environmental impact.
In 2013, My Green Lab (MGL) established a program that outlines the path to Green Lab Certification, starting with a comprehensive assessment moving to an action plan, certification and a set of new behaviors. The Green Lab Certification program has garnered international approval emphasizing best practices when it comes to sustainability in the laboratory, focusing on potential energy saving possibilities. A laboratory can benefit from a Green Lab assessment or adopting more of a Green Lab philosophy.
Best Practices in Improving Sustainability
Laboratories can implement these best practices by encouraging lab members to follow green lab procedures such as always closing the fume hood sash when not in use, turning off lights and equipment, using outlet timers and generally becoming more aware of high energy consumers in the lab. Posted green lab procedures such as stickers for fume hoods and reminders to turn off lights make it clear to lab members how to follow these best practices. This approach often facilitates increased communication among lab members and the organization, and these discussions frequently lead to additional solutions to further laboratory sustainability. Implementing such a plan not only serves to reduce the environmental footprint of the lab, but saves money and increases awareness and efficiency at the same time.
Selecting the Best Equipment
In addition to adopting best practices, consideration must be given to optimally equipping the sustainable laboratory. Since the fume hood is one of the largest energy consumers in the lab, it is vital that lab planners carefully evaluate the number, size, location and type intended to outfit the laboratory, considering not only the initial purchase price of the equipment, but costs of construction of ductwork and placement of utilities, as well as the ongoing costs of operation and potential increased HVAC load on the facility, which can be significant.
Consider the Benefits – Ductless vs. Ducted
In an effort to manage these costs, many labs are now employing ductless fume hoods, which provide the same protection as a ducted hood but are easier and cheaper to install and operate while maintaining high efficiency performance. A ductless hood can be equipped with numerous technological advances to enhance safety and function, and require relatively little energy to operate in comparison to ducted fume hoods.
Ductless fume hoods contain filters which clean contaminated air and recirculate it directly back into the laboratory, so no additional ductwork is required to exhaust air to the outside, and the flexibility of the ductless technology permits the unit to be easily be relocated in the laboratory.
Did You Know?
Air Science® Purair® ECO green performance ductless fume hoods feature superior filtration features and high performance, protecting the user and the environment from hazardous vapors generated on the work surface over a broad range of applications.
Central to the ECO Series design is the innovative Air Science® Multiplex™ Filtration Technology and exclusive EFT™ Enhanced Filtration Technology developed to deliver universal protection. Independent testing confirms that the Air Science EFT system is superior in critical areas to other green fume hood systems on the market. These high efficiency units offer an environmentally friendly, energy efficient, cost effective solution for demanding laboratory needs.
A single EC blower motor assures lower cost of ownership in one of the world’s most energy efficient ductless fume hoods, delivering long life and dependable performance.
Chemical vapors are isolated and trapped, prevent ecological impact through release into the environment. The ductless technology returns filtered air to the room, eliminating construction costs and demands on the facility HVAC system. Purair ECO ductless fume hoods meet or exceed OSHA, ANSI and other international standards. For details visit www.airscience.com/industry-standards