Green Labs Initiative
Laboratories are the largest consumer of utilities and resources on campus. They also generate a significant amount of waste, both hazardous and non-hazardous. The Office of Sustainability in collaboration with Environmental Health and Safety with support from the Vice Presidents for Research and University Operations have developed a voluntary program called Green Laboratories.
The Green Labs program is intended to provide researchers with resources and tools to implement sustainable practices and reduce utility use. Because the needs and goals of labs vary widely, we use a team approach to create individual sustainability plans that meet the needs of each lab. The goal of the program is to reduce waste, power, and water usage at the university, while maintaining research integrity and helping labs save money.
Becoming a certified Green Lab is easy!
- Contact the Green Labs program to register (GreenLabs@austin.utexas.edu)
- Designate a Green Labs Ambassador for your lab
- Complete the Green Labs Self-Evaluation: Green Labs Application [PDF*]
- A representative will contact you to set up a site evaluation
- We'll help create sustainability goals and provide strategies to achieve them.
Green Lab Practices At-A-Glance
Chill-Up: One ultra-low freezer uses as much energy as the average household. Turn these up to -70C for most uses, or the maximum appropriate temperature for your samples. Good maintenance and sample organization practices will improve energy use and lab flow efficiency. UT Freezer Loaner Program
Green Chemistry: Micro scale experiments and use less hazardous chemicals. See MIT Green Chemistry Wizard
Power Down: Use timers to automatically turn off equipment when not in use. Turn off bio-cabinets and flow hoods when not in use. Use daylight or task lamps instead of overhead lighting when possible.
Reduce Waste: Check inventory before purchasing products; buy pipette tips in bags.
Re-Use: Share chemicals and equipment with other labs. Check University Surplus before purchasing new equipment.
Recycle: Special programs exist for Styrofoam and nitrile gloves (see below). Environmental Health & Safety accepts batteries and florescent light bulbs. Pipet boxes, paperboard and cardboard can go into the standard, blue-bin, single-stream recycling.
Purchasing Power: Buy energy and water-efficient equipment. See Labs 21 Equipment Wiki.
Consider room-temperature DNA storage.
Be an Eco-Leader: Talk to other researchers about sustainable best practices. Tell someone else about the Green Labs Initiative. And get certified!
The Green Fee Committee awarded funds for a pilot program to recycle Styrofoam boxes and large packing materials instead of sending them to the land fill.
2014 Collection Dates (the first Monday of every month):
April 7, May 5, June 2, July 7, August 4, Sept 8, Oct 6, Nov 3, Dec 1
- Please bring the appropriate materials to the Welch Hall loading dock to be taken to Ecology Action for recycling.
- REMOVE ALL TAPE AND LABELS, they will damage the syrofoam shredding machine.
- No food cartons or packing peanuts. Packing peanuts may be taken to any PakMail or Mailboxes, Etc. for reuse.
- Clear plastic bags will be provided in your mail room
(Front Desk @MBB) or during pick-up. Please email if your mail room is
For further information or questions email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nitrile Glove Recycling Pilot Program
Collection is ongoing through a special labeled box in your lab. Only Kimberly-Clark gloves are eligible (instructions provided when you join the program). The gloves are recycled into other durable plastic products, usually lawn chairs, benches, and promotional items like Frisbees.
Only non-hazardous contamination/uses are permitted for recycled gloves.
Contact email@example.com when the box is full, or take the box to the Fisher equipment receiving room in WEL.
Mercury Thermometer Exchange
Still using mercury thermometers? Contact Environmental Health & Safety to replace them with alcohol thermometers for FREE!
- Extending the life of your lab freezers presentation [PDF*] from Research Safety Day 2011
- Mercury thermometer exchange program
- Use surplus equipment
- Green Labs Initiative Report [PDF*]
- Green Labs Article in The Scientist
- Green Labs Presentation at the UT Sustainability Conference [PDF*]
- UT Low Flow Fume Hood Study [PDF*]
- University of Michigan Biosafety Cabinet Electricity Consumption Study [PDF*]
Resources & Best Practices
- MIT Green Chemistry Tool to assist researchers to find less hazardous chemicals for their research
- Energy Efficient Lab Equipment Wiki
- Harvard Green Labs Best Practices
- Preserving DNA without refrigeration [PDF*]
- Labs 21
- UCSB LabRATS program
- Stanford University Energy and Water Conservation program
- EPA Green Chemistry
Contact us at GreenLabs@austin.utexas.edu or 512-232-4999 with questions or for more information.
[*PDFs require the free Adobe® Reader® or compatible software]