Sustainability and energy efficiency are strategic goals for any business. For laboratories, “green” goals are even more pressing because of the sheer amount of energy a typical lab consumes. On average, a lab uses more energy and water per area than the typical office buildingi.
- In the U.S., healthcare buildings account for 9% of total primary energy consumption for all commercial buildingsi
- A 2015 report estimated that there are more than 1.2 billion square feet of laboratory space in the USii
Labs are large consumers of energy and water, generate large quantities of waste, and use materials that may be toxic. The majority of energy consumed can be attributed primarily to the use of specialized equipment, the density of high usage equipment, ventilation systems, long hours of operation, and temperature and humidity control.
Specifically, plug-in equipment can account for anywhere from 10% to 50% of the total energy use in a laboratoryii. Within the category of plug-in equipment, fume hoods and ultra-low freezers are the two biggest culprits in terms of energy used.
View infographic on energy-efficient ultra-low temperature freezers
High energy usage isn’t a new issue for healthcare-related facilities, but many labs still don’t have a plan in place to address rising energy usage and the associated costs.
A good starting point for labs looking to be more energy efficient is assessing the products and equipment they use. According to some estimates, labs can reduce their energy consumption by 30% to 50% by replacing inefficient equipment with existing technologyi.
4 ways labs can become more energy efficient and sustainable:
1. Reduce energy consumption
- Purchase energy-efficient products and equipment
- Close fume hood sashes when possible
- Consolidate cold storage where possible
2. Reduce and eliminate waste
- Pay close attention to shelf life of consumables and reagents
- Use sustainable materials, for example, replace hazardous materials with less-hazardous alternatives where possible
- Only purchase as many materials as needed by establishing an inventory control program
3. Train staff on sustainable practices
- Encourage participation by everyone for the most effective results
- Provide written guidelines for best practices
- Leave reminders to turn off equipment that doesn’t need to stay on 24/7
4. Work with suppliers and distributors that share your sustainability goals
Cardinal Health has a range of energy-efficient equipment options to help labs get what they need in order to be more sustainable. View our energy-efficient equipment portfolio, now featuring select ENERGY STAR® certified and SNAP compliant models »