CU Green Labs
The mission of the CU Green Labs Program is to promote the efficient use of energy, water, and materials in laboratories without compromising safety or the research integrity of world-class research conducted in CU labs. Click on Program Description to the right to learn more.
Scroll down to read about the great strides being made for sustainability in CU-Boulder's Labs.
Bierbaum Lab Puts 5 Diffusion Pumps on Timers & Saves 58,000 kWh/yr plus 1 million gallons/yr of water
When CU Green Labs asked about putting diffusion pumps on timers and no one thought it was possible, Veronica Bierbaum and the Bierbaum Lab from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry stepped up to the plate to give it a try. Diffusion pumps, which are used to reach high vacuum conditions, are very large consumers of both electricity and water. The Bierbaum Lab dampers off its 11 diffusion pumps from its vacuum chambers at the end of each day because, unlike other diffusion pump users, they do not need the pumps overnight. Manually shutting down the diffusion pumps at night, however, was not a possibility for the lab because of the long cool-down and warm-up periods. This project idea was passed on from CU Green Labs to Facilities Management Engineers for analysis and implementation. CU Facilities Management Office of Resource Conservation has now paid for and completed the installation of timers for five Bierbaum diffusion pumps, which are estimated to be saving a combined 58,0000 kWh per year in electricity (the equivalent of electricity use by over 5 average US houses), plus 1 million gallons of water per year. And there are plans to put the remaining 6 diffusion pumps on timers in the near future. If you have diffusion pumps at CU-Boulder which you would like to have on timers for energy and water savings, please contact Kathy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ultra Low Temperature Freezers Raised to -70°C from -80°C for large energy savings (2 kWh/day)
Participating CU-Boulder Labs
- Blumenthal Lab
- Garcea Lab
- Han Lab
- Moore Lab
- Smolen Lab
- Winey Lab
- Xue Lab
On university campuses across the nation, freezers are collectively a massive consumer of energy and are growing in numbers, especially in biological studies and medical labs. Ultra Low Temperature (ULT) freezers are particularly large consumers, each using approximately the same electricity as an entire average US house (ULTs typically consume 22-30 kWh/day). In addition, there is energy consumed by building HVAC systems to remove the large amount of heat rejected by these freezers into the laboratory space.
Janet Fox from the Winey Lab in MCDB first presented the idea to CU Green Labs of raising the temperature of ULT freezers from -80°C to -70°C (let’s face it, both temperatures are still really cold), an idea that was already being pursued by the University of California at Davis (UC-Davis). According to measurements made at UC-Davis (http://labs21.lbl.gov/wiki/equipment/index.php/Category:Ultra_Low), raising the temperature on ULT freezers from -80°C to -70°C not only reduces electricity use by an average of 2 kWh/day (nearly a 10% drop) but also frequently results in a longer freezer lifetime due to decreased work by the unit compressor.
While the vast majority of ULT freezers at CU-Boulder are presently set at -80°C, there are some CU-Boulder researchers who have always had their units set to -70°C, such as the Blumenthal Lab in MCDB, the Garcea Lab in MCDB, the Smolen Lab in IBG (-72°C for Smolen Lab), and others. Furthermore, discussions with researchers have led to the realization that little science is used in making decisions about what temperature samples are stored at.
In response to this information, a number of CU-Boulder labs have voluntarily raised, or are in the process of raising, the temperature of their ULT freezers from -80°C to -70°C, including the Winey Lab in MCDB, the Han Lab in MCDB, the Moore Lab in IPhy, and the Xue Lab in MCDB. Furthermore, starting the beginning of January and running for three weeks, CU Green Labs is offering laboratories participation in a raffle contest for a $125 gift card to a local restaurant of choice for 1) raising the temperature of ULT from -80°C to -70°C and/or 2) providing information on what samples are being stored in freezers long term at temperatures of -70°C or higher. If you would like to participate in the contest, please contact Kathy at email@example.com.
Kathy Ramirez-Aguilar, Ph.D.
CU Green Labs Program Manager