The environmental impact of research-related activity is often neglected by most lab users. According to the Green Labs Program, UBC lab buildings account for approximately 49% of campus energy use, 24% of campus water use and 96% of the total hazardous waste generated. The voluntary program Green Labs was launched in 2008 and aims to minimize the environmental footprint of the University’s research. By promoting recycling and recovery programs as well as sustainability training, it empowers researchers with the means to reduce energy, water, solid and hazardous waste. In particular, the Green Labs Fund initiative provides financial support for pilot projects in order to strengthen research sustainability at UBC.
Reini commented on the win: “It’s not the first time that CBR has won a Green Labs initiative. In 2011, the CBR’s Team Green Revolution won the Green Research Challenge. The team was formed by members from different CBR labs: Conway, Overall, Mauk, Brooks and Kizhakkedathu, and the Fermenter Suite. At that time, sixteen labs from UBC Vancouver and Okanagan campuses were participating in a two-month-long challenge.” This year, thanks to the project presented by Reini, CBR won the $4000 prize to reduce its water consumption. “This prize money is for a dishwasher rack to wash glass pipettes in an efficient and sustainable way,” explains Reini. By exchanging the old-fashioned faucet pipette washer with this glass pipette rack, the CBR can expect to reduce the water consumption from 17,280 to 180 L/year. It is currently a pilot project but after a three month trial period we hope to have definitive data to demonstrate the efficiency of the system and promote it to other UBC labs.
For the last 6 months, Reini has been the CBR Sustainability Coordinator, together with Dr. Katherine Serrano, a Canadian Blood Services Research Associate and a UBC Clinical Assistant Professor working in Dr. Devine’s Lab. By dedicating 2-4 work hours per month, they promote best practices and provide tools to reduce further the environmental impact of the research in CBR.
What can you do to help promote environmentally friendly initiatives? – Remember to Shut the Sash! An open fume hood can use as much energy as 3.5 homes and 10% of UBC’s overall energy consumption. Competition is now on from the February 23 to March 27. See more information here.