Green Lab Info

[Accordion] UF Green Lab Certification

[Sub-accordion] Overview

The UF Green Lab Certification program aims to objectively evaluate and recognize labs that are actively employing sustainable behaviors.

[Sub-accordion] Green Lab Certification Assessment

The UF Green Lab Certification rubric addresses sustainable behaviors, conservation efforts, and environmentally friendly infrastructure applicable to laboratory settings. Through EH&S evaluation of a weighted rubric, labs can achieve graded levels of green lab certification.

[Sub-accordion] Recognition/Rewards

In order to be recognized as a certified green lab, laboratories will be assessed in accordance with a green lab certification rubric. The certification rubric is first completed by lab staff as self-assessment. Thereafter, the rubric is passed along to EH&S Research Services in order to coordinate an onsite sustainability survey. Following the survey, labs will receive a sustainability score and may achieve graded levels of green lab certification that will be displayed on their lab notice boards:

  • Green: Awarded to labs that achieve ≥90% lab assessment scores



Labs that achieve exemplary green laboratory assessment scores will also be acknowledged in the EH&S Newsletter and on the EH&S Green Laboratory Program website.

[Accordion] Lab Energy Savings

[Sub-accordion] Refrigerators / Freezers

One of the most significant consumers of energy in laboratories are cold storage units. Notably, ultralow freezers can consume nearly as much energy as a small house.  There are many ways to support more sustainable utilization of laboratory refrigerators/freezers.

[Sub-sub-accordion] Store items at appropriate temperatures.

  • Avoid using an ultralow freezer as general storage. Ultralow freezer space comes at a premium and should be used for critical/sensitive samples.
[Sub-sub-accordion] Chill up ultralow freezers: -70°C setpoint instead of -80°C.

  • In the current day, ultralow freezer thresholds are conventionally set at -80°C; however, storing samples at this temperature is not well founded. Although this 10°C change in temperature comes at a considerable cost (up to 30% increased energy consumption), the existing standard for storing samples at -80°C is not scientifically justified {source}. Biologically relevant temperature thresholds are as follows:
    • Crystallization (freezing) point of water (0°C)
    • 1st re-crystallization (-60 to -63°C)
    • 2nd re-crystallization point (-130 to -135°C)
  • The primary justification for setting ultralow freezers to a lower setpoint is to improve sample integrity in the unfortunate event of a unit or power failure. However, this concern can be readily addressed through the following:
    • Connecting critical units to emergency power
    • Connecting critical units to monitoring systems.
    • Implementing stringent temperature alarm thresholds.
  • Many peer institutions have implemented ultralow freezer chill up initiatives {source}.
  • Increasing the ultralow freezer setpoint to -70°C will impart substantial energy savings and may also prolong equipment lifespan.
[Sub-sub-accordion] Reduce temperature fluctuation:

  • Minimize open door time by organizing contents and implementing an inventory system (such as box maps).
  • A full freezer better maintains temperature relative to a partially full unit. If not operating at maximal capacity, pre-stage the unit with empty racks and boxes to help hold temperature.
[Sub-sub-accordion] Maintenance:

  • Regularly remove door/gasket ice build-up.
  • Defrost units as needed.
  • Clean/replace filters on a routine basis.
  • Regularly clean freezer coils.
[Sub-sub-accordion] Unit staging & sharing:

  • Ultralow freezers discharge a considerable amount of heat. These units are optimally staged in centralized location/room, maintaining 6-8” free perimeter, near an exhaust duct. This will reduce HVAC burden.
  • Consolidate storage space. Store compounds that are stable at higher temperatures, such as most nucleic acids, at -20°C.
  • Share refrigerator/freezer storage space with other investigators.
[Sub-accordion] Chemical Fume Hoods

Chemical fume hoods are exhausted enclosures laboratories that when used properly minimize exposure to hazardous gases, vapors, and dust that may be encountered in laboratory processes. ​Due to continuously moving conditioned air out of the lab, fume hoods are highly energy intensive. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found that “an older fume hood in a MIT lab can use more than 3 times as much energy annually as a single-family home. The energy to filter, move, cool and/or heat air is typically the largest energy demand in most lab facilities.”

[Sub-sub-accordion] Closing fume hood sashes when not in use is one of the most impactful things to save energy in a laboratory. For variable-air-volume fume hoods, closing the sash reduces the exhaust rate to its minimum.

[Sub-accordion] Biosafety Cabinets

  • Turn off the blower when not in use. This confers immediate energy savings as well as prolongs filter/blower lifespan. Upon turning on the unit, be sure to allow the blower to run at least 5 minutes to normalize airflow dynamics and establish a HEPA filter charge gradient.
  • Do not use the UV light. The use of UV light as a means of BSC surface disinfection is discouraged in the BMBL. Lamp efficiency wanes over time, which is further compounded by poor penetrating power.
[Sub-accordion] Autoclaves/Dishwashers

[Sub-accordion] Other Equipment and Lights

  • Turn off lights when the room is vacant.
  • Turn off and unplug equipment when not in use.
  • Label equipment and light switches to encourage personnel to routinely turn them off when equipment or the room is not in use.


[Sub-accordion] Lab Doors

  • Keeping lab doors closed is integral in maintaining laboratory directional airflow. For labs working with infectious pathogens, the research space should maintain negative (inward) directional airflow to ensure biocontainment. On the other hand, maintaining positive (outward) airflow is essential for bioexclusion which is a critical feature in germ-free or cleanroom environments. Leaving lab doors open strains HVAC systems and may disrupt desired airflow dynamics, not just for your research space, but throughout a building.


[Accordion] Lab Resource Conservation


Green chemistry is the practice of designing chemical products or processes that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances. One example of this is using lower hazard chemicals in place of chemicals with higher hazards that are more expensive to dispose of.  This practice can often be cheaper and safer for labs in addition to being far cheaper when it comes to hazardous waste disposal. Substitution of hazards is the second most effective most effective method of hazard control after elimination.  The 12 Principles of Green Chemistry provides a framework for implementing sustainable and environmentally-friendly processes and behaviors:

[Sub-sub-accordion] Waste Prevention

It is better to prevent waste than to treat or clean up waste after it has been created.

[Sub-sub-accordion] Atom Economy

Synthetic methods should be designed to maximize the incorporation of all materials used in the process into the final product.

Conventionally, reaction efficacy is dictated by percent yield. However, atom economy delineates the mass of the reactant atoms that are incorporated in the desired product and that which yields waste by-products.

% Atom Economy = (FW of atoms utilized/FW of all reactants) X 100

[Sub-sub-accordion] Less Hazardous Chemical Synthesis

Wherever practicable, synthetic methods should be designed to use and generate substances that possess little or no toxicity to human health and the environment.

Although toxic substances are routinely utilized as reactive chemicals afford reactions that are kinetically and thermodynamically favorable, efforts should be made to mitigate the overall toxicity profile of a product or process.

[Sub-sub-accordion] Designing Safer Chemicals

Chemical products should be designed to effect their desired function while minimizing their toxicity.

Highly reactive chemicals are often used by chemists to manufacture products because they are quite valuable at affecting molecular transformations. However, they are also more likely to react with unintended biological targets, human and ecological, resulting in unwanted adverse effects.

[Sub-sub-accordion] Safer Solvents & Auxiliaries

The use of auxiliary substances (e.g., solvents, separation agents, etc.) should be made unnecessary wherever possible and innocuous when used.

The linked Greener Solvent Guide in an excellent resource for selecting less-hazardous alternative solvents.

[Sub-sub-accordion] Energy Efficient Design

Energy requirements of chemical processes should be recognized for their environmental and economic impacts and should be minimized. As opposed to solely focusing upon parameters needed to facilitate a given reaction, it is important to consider where the energy comes. Whenever possible, synthetic methods should be conducted at ambient temperature and pressure.

[Sub-sub-accordion] Use of Renewable Feedstocks

A raw material or feedstock should be renewable rather than depleting whenever technically and economically practicable. Strive to use renewable feedstocks to develop low energy, non-toxic pathways that convert biomass to useful chemicals in a manner that does not generate more carbon than is being removed from the environment. In essence, this principle aims to implement positive carbon footprints.

[Sub-sub-accordion] Reduce Derivatives

Unnecessary derivatization (use of blocking groups, protection/ deprotection, temporary modification of physical/chemical processes) should be minimized or avoided if possible, because such steps require additional reagents and can generate waste.

One of the best approaches to reduce the use of derivatives and protecting groups in the synthesis of target molecules is through the use of enzymes.

[Sub-sub-accordion] Catalysis (versus Stoichiometric)

Catalytic reagents (as selective as possible) are superior to stoichiometric reagents.

[Sub-sub-accordion] Design for Degradation

Chemical products should be designed so that at the end of their function they break down into innocuous degradation products and do not persist in the environment.

[Sub-sub-accordion] Real-Time Pollution Prevention

Analytical methodologies need to be further developed to allow for real-time, in-process monitoring and control prior to the formation of hazardous substances.

[Sub-sub-accordion] Inherently Benign Chemistry for Accident Prevention

Substances and the form of a substance used in a chemical process should be chosen to minimize the potential for chemical accidents, including releases, explosions, and fires.


[Sub-accordion] Water Savings

[Sub-sub-accordion] Low flow faucet aerators

Low Flow Faucet Aerators that introduce air into the water stream to product a larger and whiter stream that is soft to the touch and non-splashing.


It is important to consider appropriate water selection for a given need. Whenever possible, avoid using purified water such as filtered, reverse osmosis (RO), or deionized (DI) water sources. Water purification comes with inherent economic and throughput costs. In addition to the processing equipment and energy costs, it requires 3 liters of water to generate 1 liter of DI water.

[Sub-sub-accordion] Equipment water conservation

Don’t let water sources run when they don’t need to be running. Only run equipment that uses water, like glassware washers and autoclaves, when they’re full.

[Sub-sub-accordion] Waterless condensers

Whenever possible, waterless condensers should be substituted for water-based condensers. Instead of running water continuously to cool a reaction, use a closed-loop water system or recirculating water bath.


[Sub-accordion] Waste Management

[Sub-sub-accordion] Biohazardous Waste

Biohazardous waste is subdivided into two primary categories:

  1. Biomedical waste is any waste that includes the following:
    • Pathogens infectious to healthy humans
    • Human and non-human primate (NHP) tissues/cells
    • All solid, liquid, and sharp materials contaminated with the aforementioned items
  2. Non-biomedical waste biohazardous waste includes the following:
    • Non-infectious recombinant/synthetic nucleic acids
    • Microorganisms not infectious to humans (risk group 1 agents, including plant and animal pathogens)
    • Presumed healthy animal (excluding non-human primate) products

All solid/sharp biomedical waste is destined for incineration. Both landfill and incineration routes of disposal have drawbacks; however, although falling within acceptable EPA parameters, incineration of waste emits toxic gases and particulates into the air. Additionally, the current contracted biomedical waste incinerator does not operate as an energy from waste plant. When recycling is not an option, landfill disposal affords greater carbon and resource sequestration relative to incineration.

[Sub-sub-accordion] Chemical Hazardous Waste

[Sub-sub-accordion] Non-Regulated Waste:

Waste that does not meet regulated chemical, biological, or radioactive classifications should be disposed of as standard lab trash. It is important to note that compatible non-regulated waste products may be readily recycled.

[Sub-sub-accordion] Laboratory Recycling:


[Accordion] Incentive$

[Sub-accordion] Akin to the CU Green Lab financial incentive program, we should coordinate with UF Research and/or Procurement to implement financial incentives for purchasing energy efficient equipment. Not only is this more sustainable, but much of the energy efficient equipment (notably ultralow freezers) will reduce energy expenditures (resulting in long-term savings).

  • The direct cost of electricity use for the average -80C ultralow freezer ranges between $1000 and $1500 per year (at $0.15/kWh). Supported by a DOE field study.
    • Sterling units have approximately 66% energy savings relative to conventional (average efficiency) cascaded refrigeration system ULTs.