The “Green Labs” initiative at the Simon Fraser University, British Columbia (Canada)


Today I would like to introduce you to an initiative of the Simon Fraser University in Canada, which promotes the idea of running a green laboratory. It’s a nice example, which shows actually what is a green lab and what exactly can you personally do?

So, what is a green lab? When you google this, as I did searching for information on this topic, you find quite a few laboratories that are interested in researching plants. True, plants are green (at least most of them), but that’s not what we’re talking about here. Any lab can be a green lab, even if none of its members are even remotely interested in plants, if it is run in a way that you are aware of how you are using your resources – energy, consumables, water – and do so in a more sustainable way. Or in other words, you go easy on your resources and don’t waste them like there is no tomorrow.

Now, why would you want to run a green lab? Well, you might hope that it is done because of a higher motive – you want to save the earth and protect the environment. But I fear it always boils down to this ugly truth: it’s about money. Nowadays more than ever. Budgets are getting smaller and smaller and everyone is forced to do more with less money. And guess what? As the SFU points out, “a green lab saves money”. A lab needs energy, water and consumables – all things that cost money. It might be disappointing to discover that this is one or even the main motivation behind it. But hey, in the end reducing the energy and water consumption does the environment some good. After all, “A green lab reduces our carbon footprint.”

And what can you do in a lab? It’s actually not that different from a normal household. If you have a look at the SFU’s Green Lab Guide, one of the main tips is the good old “Turn it off!” If you’re not in a room anymore – turn off the lights. You’re experiment is done and neither you nor any colleague is going to need that instrument anytime soon – turn it off. You’re done with your internet research and going back to the bench now – turn off the PC or at least put it to sleep. Simple as that.

These are just a few spotlights on the tips provided on the SFU’s Green Lab website. Have a closer look at it for more tips and read their Green Labs Guide. And very important – share these ideas with you colleagues and get them on board too. Remember, they might not be an environmentalist like you are, but they won’t sneeze at the idea of saving a few bucks!

Oh, and even more important: before you’re now running off to your lab to put these tips into practice, turn off this computer! 😉

Green Labs by @SFU


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