Green Labs Program

UMass Amherst conducts over $80 million in sustainability related research.  The diverse expertise of our faculty is ideally suited to the transdisciplinary, systems-thinking approaches required to solve the greatest challenges of our time, from local to global scales.  

However, all forms of research can inherently be resource intensive, from high levels of energy consumption to the generation of large amounts of solid waste. UMass recognizes this environmental impact of our research and therefore has set in place a number of sustainability efforts that aims to reduce the environmental impact of our institutional research.  These efforts collectively make up our Green Labs Program:

  • Energy conservation and efficiency, e.g., fume hood ("shut the sash") and freezer maintenance programs
  • Materials management, e.g., green purchasing guidelines and recycling and reuse programs
  • Water conservation and efficiency
  • Chemical use and disposal
  • Training event(s) for lab users on sustainable practices

Energy Conservation & Efficiency

Chemical fume hoods are one of the most energy intensive aspects of a laboratory operation.  To reduce costs and increase energy efficiency, the user can adjust the hood's movable window, known as the "sash" to access the cabinet.  Lab air delivered by the building's Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) mechanical system is pulled into and through the cabinet to reduce the user's exposure risk while handling materials.  Fume hoods demand large energy loads from the HVAC system because they are constantly exhausting newly conditioned air out of the building in order to maintain safe air flow rates.

Physical Sciences Building Shut the Sash Initiative: Encourages users to manually close the vent hood when not in use to promote safety and energy use.

*Fume hood sticker templates (horizontal and vertical) for the Shut the Sash initiative are available upon request.  Contact Ezra Small at esmall@umass.edu.

Materials Management

Labs also generate a great deal of waste.  One way to reduce the waste impact of our labs is through specialized recycling programs to recycle used lab equipment like gloves, PPE, pipette trays, centrifuge tubes, etc. instead of throwing them away.

There is currently a campus pilot project that is a collaboration among the Department of Microbiology (DeAngelis Molecular Microbial Ecology Lab), Environmental Health & Safety, and Sustainable UMass.  This pilot project is gauging interest in other labs across campus who may want to implement glove and lab plastic recycling.  Please fill out this survey for PI's and researchers to indicate your level of interest.

Other examples of such programs exist at other universities including UTexas and UCBoulder.  A number of lab recycling companies offer recycling services including infrastructure and hauling:

 

Water Conservation, chemical use and disposal, and sustainable practices training sections coming soon!