CU Green Labs Program

The CU Green Labs Program uses a team approach to minimize the use of energy, water, and material goods in CU-Boulder’s laboratories without compromising research integrity or safety. 

Scroll down to read about the great strides being made for conservation in CU-Boulder's Labs.

CU-Boulder Labs Win National Freezer Challenge Competition

CU-Boulder was one of the two top winners of the 2011 National Freezer Challenge. The challenge was made by University of California-Davis (UC-Davis), to universities across the nation to encourage labs to address the many actions that can be taken to improve sample access and energy efficiency related to lab freezers.  For more information on these actions, see the website that was created for CU-Boulder’s participation in the contest at

Forty-five CU-Boulder labs in total took actions that contributed to our total score in the competition. Funding to incentivize participation in the contest by CU-Boulder labs came from Sustainable CU, the Environmental Center, and Facilities Management Office of Sustainability.  However, many labs indicated that they participated simply because it was the right thing to do. In fact, the Anseth lab donated their UMC Connection gift card to Attention Homes in Boulder and the Blumenthal Lab asked that their winnings be used for additional conservation efforts in the MCDB Dept.

In the end, CU-Boulder was in competition against three other universities: UC-Davis, UC-Santa Barabara, and the University of Pennsylvania.   UC-Davis earned the most points with 951 points. CU-Boulder had the second highest point score with 504 points. Therefore, UC-Davis won the “most points” category. However, to normalize between campuses, the contest used the # of Ultra Low Temperature (ULT) freezers on each campus.   Davis has 923 ULT freezers (~1 point/ ULT) whereas CU-Boulder has 130 ULT freezers (~4 points/ULT). As a result, CU-Boulder overwhelming won the “normalized” category!!!

The following was accomplished during the Challenge at CU-Boulder:

  • 7 ULT freezer were raised in temp from -80˚C to -70˚C (or warmer) bringing our total of ULT freezers at -70˚C or warmer to 34 ULT freezers
  • 36 labs pledged to "Just Say Ultra Low" instead of "-80"
  • 10 new labs signed up for the CU Green Labs freezer maintenance program (to bring our total to 27 labs in the program)
  • 33.75 cubic feet of material was removed and properly discarded from ULTs
  • 74.6 cubic feet of material was removed and properly discarded from other freezer types and refrigerators
  • 44 units received preventative maintenance attention (defrosting, cleaning filters/coils)
  • 4 freezers and refrigerators were retired without replacement (consolidation)
  • 1 unit replaced with an Energy Star Unit
  • 3 freezers or refrigerators were unplugged
  • 5 labs tested out room temperature storage of DNA and/or RNA
  • 56 units were inventoried/reorganized

Way to go CU-Boulder Labs!!! These are impressive results!