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Sustainability and Science: How Eco-Friendly Labs are Contributing to a Greener World

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There’s absolutely no question that scientific laboratories are beneficial and much-needed in the world. It’s in scientific and biological research facilities that research is conducted and implemented, and cures and medicines are created. And, because the attraction to science is to make the world a better place, many laboratories are pursing noble goals beyond their work, such as going green in the lab.

Across the country, science labs are stepping up their game in an effort to contribute to a greener world. In an effort to be more eco-friendly, labs are gravitating toward projects that help the environment as well as participating in research activities that are less impactful.

Designing an Eco-Friendly Lab:

An eco-friendly lab doesn’t waste energy; in fact, reducing energy waste is a top priority. That’s because laboratories are notorious for their energy usage. For example, Harvard University is more than 25 million square feet and laboratories account for only 21 percent of that space; yet, those labs consume nearly half the campus’s energy.

“It’s a very energy-intensive space,” says Jamie Bermis, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Green Program Coordinator at Harvard. Simply put, laboratories consume the majority of campus utilities, as well as business labs, which also hemorrhage energy.

If possible, you may want to consider moving your lab to a more efficient location or using a service to house your lab’s equipment while you renovate. With today’s improved sciences (at-temperature backup freezers, electrical systems, etc.), lab relocation is safer than ever and an efficiently designed laboratory is going to cost less to operate.

Here are some eco-friendly ideas for the lab:

·  Close the sashes on unused chemical fume hoods

·  Defrost freezers

·  Shut off lights and other power guzzlers at the end of the day

·  Participate in multiple batch rinses instead of running the water all day

·  Pick green chemicals over non-green ones

Eco-Friendly Labs to Look Up To:

Some campus labs are already as green as they can be. Or, they’re on their way to reducing energy waste and thus reducing costs. These are a few of the best performing labs, and you can emulate their behaviors to make your lab that much more sustainable.

Harvard University FAS Sherman Fairchild Laboratory:

Harvard has always set a precedence in terms of eco-friendliness. The FAS Sherman Fairchild Lab is one of the most recent built-on-campus projects that is unique in its composition. In fact, 91 percent of the lab’s building materials are recycled. It was also built so that 97 percent of the lab is exposed to natural sunlight. Additionally, the lab was built using low VOC paints and sealants.

Pomona College Richard C. Seaver Biology Building:

Another amazing eco-friendly lab is Pomona College’s Biology Building. Just like the Harvard lab, the biology building was built in a way that attracts natural sunlight, which helps reduce the amount of energy that’s wasted on lighting. Additionally, the school is outfitted with solar panels and concrete floors. One of its most unique features is the electric vehicle charging station located outside the building.

Aberystwyth University Institute of Biological, Environmental, and Rural Sciences (IBERS):

Not only was IBERS constructed from approximately 80 percent recycled material, its primary use is to research and develop ways to make the planet greener. The laboratory is mainly focused on climate change, and looks for ways to help ensure humanity successfully survives it. The IBERS building has a natural ventilation system and a rainwater harvesting system. Builders created IBERS hoping it would inspire students to become more focused on the environment.  

Overall, there are countless reasons your lab should go green. It will lower costs, and it’s an exceptional way to give back to the earth and your community. Even little changes make a world of difference, so consider auditing your greenness and implementing some changes today.  

Environment

4 Common Items That Can be Reused Again and Again

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reuse reduce recycle plastic bottles etc
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Vanatchanan | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/vanatchanan%20buahom

As a society we are getting much better at taking our obligations to the world and environment around us more seriously. This is undoubtedly a good thing! The effects of climate change are beginning to manifest across the world, and this is turning the issue from an abstract threat into a very real danger. Trying to introduce some greener, more eco-friendly practices into your life isn’t just a great way of doing something beneficial for society and the world around you. It is a wonderful way of engaging positively with the world and carries with it numerous psychological benefits.

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Being a greener, more ecologically friendly person doesn’t require any dramatic life changes. Breaking or making a few small habits is all it takes to make your life a greener one. In this article we look at one of the easiest, yet most effective green practices to get into: reusing everyday items.

Jars and Containers

Glass and metal are widely recycled, and recycling is a good thing! However, consider whether any containers you buy, whether it’s a tub of ice cream or a jar of coffee, can be washed out and reused for something else. Mason jars, for example, can be used to store homemade pasta sauce and can be washed for future use. Once you start thinking about it, you will find endless opportunities to reuse your old containers.

Soda Bottles

An ice-cold soda is a wonderful treat on a hot day, but buying soda can get expensive, and the manufacturing and distribution of the drinks themselves isn’t great for the environment. However, by holding on to your old soda bottles and repurposing them as water bottles, you can save money on drinks, or use them to measure out water for your garden.

Plastic Bags

Most of the time groceries come in paper bags, which are better for the environment than the plastic alternatives, but they are less durable and thus harder to reuse. Whenever the store places your items in a plastic bag, hang onto it so you can reuse the bags again. If you want to take it one step further, consider looking into buying some personalized recycled bags. These bags are designed to last for a long time and are made of recycled materials. They look striking and unique, they’ll turn heads, and maybe even attitudes!

Seeds

If you’re a keen gardener, then you will already probably know how to reseed your plants in order to ensure a fresh crop after each plant’s lifecycle. If you have space in your garden, or haven’t yet tried your hand at gardening, then consider planting a small vegetable plot. Growing your own veggies means that you’ll be helping to cut back on the emissions generated by their transport and production. The best part about growing your own food in this way is that, by harvesting properly and saving the seeds, you can be set up with fresh vegetables for life!

Reusing and recycling common household items is an easy way to make your world a little bit greener. Once you start looking for these opportunities you’ll realize that they’re everywhere!

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Environment

These 5 Green Office Mistakes Are Costing You Money

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eco-friendly green offices
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Stokkete | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/cyano

The sudden interest in green business is very encouraging. According to recent reports, 42% of all companies have rated sustainability as an important element of their business. Unfortunately, the focus on sustainability will only last if companies can find ways to use it to boost their ROI.

Many businesses get so caught up in being socially conscious that they hope the financial aspect of it takes care of itself. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to go green and boost your net income at the same time.

Here are some important mistakes that you will want to avoid.

Only implementing sustainability on micro-scale

The biggest reason that brands are going green is to improve their optics with their customers. Too many businesses are making very minor changes, such as processing paperwork online and calling themselves green.

Customers have become wary of these types of companies. If you want to earn their business, you are going to need to go all the way. Bring in a green business consultant and make every feasible change to demonstrate that you are a green organization from top to bottom.

Not prioritizing investments by long-term ROI

It isn’t realistic to build an entirely green organization overnight. You will need to allocate your capital wisely.

Before investing in any green assets or services, you should always conduct a long-term cost benefit analysis. The initial investment for some green services may be over $20,000. If they don’t shave your cost by at least $3,000 a year, they probably aren’t worth the investment.

Determine which green investments will have the best pay off over the next 10 years. Make these investments before anything else. Then compare your options within each of those categories.

Implementing green changes without a plan

Effective, long-term planning is the key to business success. This principle needs to be applied to green organizations as well.

Before implementing a green strategy, you must answer the following questions:

  • How will I communicate my green business philosophy to my customers?
  • How will running a green business affect my revenue stream?
  • How will adopting green business strategies change my monthly expenses? Will they increase or decrease them?
  • How will my company finance green upgrades and other investments?

The biggest mistake that too many green businesses make is being overly optimistic with these forecasts. Take the time to collect objective data and make your decisions accordingly. This will help you run a much more profitable green business.

Not considering the benefits of green printing

Too many companies believe that going paperless is the only way to run a green organization. Unfortunately, going 100% paperless it’s not feasible for most companies.

Rather than aim for an unrealistic goal, consider the option of using a more environmentally friendly printer. It won’t be perfect, but it will be better than the alternative.

According to experts from Doranix, environmental printers have several benefits:

  • They can process paper that has been completely recycled.
  • They consume less energy than traditional printers.
  • They use ink that is more environmentally friendly.

You want to take a look at different green printers and compare them. You’ll find that some will meet your needs as a green business.

Poorly communicating your green business strategy to customers

Brand positioning doesn’t happen on its own. If you want to run a successful green business, you must communicate your message to customers as clearly as possible. You must also avoid the appearance that you are patronizing them.

The best approach is to be clear when you were first making the change. I’ll make an announcement about your company‘s commitment to sustainability.

You also want to reinforce this message overtime by using green labels on all of your products. You don’t have to be blatant with your messaging at this stage. Simply provide a small, daily reminder on your products and invoices.

Finally, it is a good idea to participate in green business seminars and other events. If your community has a local Green Chamber of Commerce, you should consider joining as well.

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