Our Sustainability Strategy
Here at GSH we acknowledge the impact of scientific research on the environment. Labs consume 3 to 10 times more energy and 4x more water than office buildings and produce 5.5 million (!) tons of plastic waste per year. We see it as our responsibility to raise awareness about these issues and to contribute to the Sustainable Development Agenda adopted by UN in 2015.
To help us spread the word and keep information accessible and transparent, we are launching the GreenGSH webpage. This place will be dedicated to sharing essential guidelines, available resources and tracking our efforts. We also aim to establish connections with the growing green academic network. Please contact us if you would like to get involved!
Watch this place!
- All light bulbs in the GSH are exchanged for the more energy efficient LED lights.
As of May 2022, GSH switched to a 100% CO2 neutral energy provider.
- Air in the lab must be fully exchanged and filtered several times per hour. As such, ventilation is the most energy demanding practice. At GSH, air ventilation is on a timer, so no energy is spent on it during the night-time or when lab is empty during the weekends/holidays.
- Fume hoods with hazardous substances in it must ventilate constantly (including the hazardous substances cabinets under the fume hood). Here, open window or sash of the fume hood puts an extra demand on the ventilation system, therefore increasing the energy consumption (comparable to 3.5 times of an average household). Please, keep windows and fume hood sashes closed when not in use.
- Temperature in the labs is set at 21°C. Please, avoid using the AC unless necessary and do not use it for heating. To ensure proper heating please make sure that radiators (heating) are unobstructed.
Ultra-Low Temperature Freezers
- Each ULT freezer consumes as much energy as 3 average households. Currently there are 17 ULT freezers plugged in at the GSH. To increase efficiency of this equipment, remember regular defrosting. Consider optimal use of available space and a clean-up! Before purchasing new freezer, please consider sharing space with your colleagues.
- here is mounting evidence that raising temperature from -80°C to -70°C is safe for most samples and amounts to up to 30% energy saving! -70°C works with this refrigerator. We already have champions on site, AG Greten and AG Sevenich lead the way by raising the temperature of 5 ULT freezers to -70!
- Check out and join Freezer Challenge.
- Biosafety Cabinets As with fume hoods, biosafety cabinets put a strain on the ventilation. Please close the sash and turn off the power when this equipment is not in use. If you are not sure of the correct procedure, ask your lab manager or Dr. Stefan Stein. Check out this guide.
- Autoclaves Autoclaves use pressurised and high-temperature steam to sterilise glassware, animal cages, and S2 etc and mixed waste prior to disposal. This equipment is both high energy and high-water demand. There are 3 autoclaves for waste sterilisation operated by groups and bench autoclaves to sterilise small plastic/glass ware. If you use this equipment please always operate on full load, consolidate with others if needed. There is a large autoclave in the Spühlküche as well as in the animal facility. These are operated by instructed personnel and always at full capacity.
- Computers Left on, computers still consume energy even in a standby mode. Please, turn off your computer (including monitor!) or laptop when you leave. Follow the notes by any PC connected to equipment in the lab!
Turn The Switch!
- By far the easiest way we can all contribute! Turn off the lights when you are leaving the room. Any room: bathroom, changing room, office, lab! If you see a light on in an empty room, just flick the switch!
Recycling In The Lab & Office
- Plastic This is THE main pollutant of the environment and, unfortunately, not easy to avoid in the lab. However, non-contaminated plastic can be recycled and collecting station should be in every lab = “Gelber Sack” (if not, please contact us). Similar arrangements for offices are pending. For further recycling ideas please see this guide from University of Bristol for tips and hints, there is so much more we can do! In an effort to reduce single-use plastic GSH switched to reloadable pipette tip boxes from Sarstedt.
- Paper Cardboard boxes, office paper and non-contaminated tissue paper can be recycled. You can either leave it outside of the lab to be collected by our cleaning crew or bring it to the proper recycling bins (“Blaue Tonne”) in the courtyard. Please, only print when absolutely necessary, and if possible double-sided.
- Batteries Box for used batteries for recycling is in the basement next to the workshop (ask internal service).
Please remember, the best waste management practice is reduction!
Close The Tap!
- Please close taps when not in use; notify Innendienst if there is any leakage.
Know Your Water
- Please consider what type of water you need for experiment! Two different types of water are purified on site at the GSH: “E-Wasser” (deionised) and “Reinst-Wasser” (ultra-pure). Both are energy dependent processes and use tap water as a raw material. It takes 3 L of tap water to produce 1L of deionised water! Please consult this guide to help you decide and talk to your colleagues.
- Remember, do not use “Reinst-Wasser” for autoclaves or incubators!
- Energy efficiency is a priority when purchasing all new equipment at GSH.
Plan And Consolidate
- A well-planned experiment not only saves on time but on resources! Please ask your colleagues about surplus equipment and materials before placing an order. Please consider the size of your purchase to avoid wasted materials!
- Please check Environmental Impact Factor Label (Accountability Consistency Transparency) before placing an order. The ACT label provides clear, third-party verified information about the environmental impact of laboratory product.
- This is defined as “the design of chemical products and processes that reduce and/or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances”.
- As before, please ask your colleagues for necessary chemicals first.
- When considering purchasing chemical products, consider consulting the Greener Alternatives Evaluation Matrix from Merk to help you plan your experiment in a sustainable way.
- Newer servers at GSH are energy efficient
- Please make use of the software & tools (email, cloud/server solutions, MS Office 365) provided for, digital, hybrid, paperless communication
- Printer paper is Blue Angel certified (recycled, bleach-free production) and print in black and white when possible
Guides And Useful Links
- Check our Green GSH Lab/Office Guide (TBC)
- Check our Green Academic Community (TBC)
- Labconscious® – an open community blog to reduce lab waste, use green chem, conserve water & safe energy
- 17 Goals to transform our world
- Blue Angel is the eco-label of the German Federal Government
- My Green Lab® strives to build a global culture of sustainability in science
- Learn more about the eco-label for lab products ACT
- This is the very interesting chart about water type specifications