Danforth Campus Green Labs Initiative kicks off in Brauer Hall

A new Danforth Campus Green Labs Initiative kicked off Friday, Sept. 16, in Stephen F. & Camilla T. Brauer Hall in the School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis.

The program, which the Office of Sustainability hopes to spread across campus in the near future, seeks to educate faculty, staff and students and provide a plan of action to reduce energy consumption in laboratories.

A similar program initiated at the School of Medicine in 2009 reduced energy consumption by an estimated 25 percent. Some of the most common energy offenders were empty deep freezers (which must be left at minus-40 degrees Celsius) and centrifuges that left chilling samples long after spinning was complete.

“We want to identify what’s empty or not being used and what’s being left on longer than it should be,” says Will Fischer, sustainability coordinator. “We want to empower people in their labs to take advantage of the tools we’ve given them and make concrete energy reductions.”

A Green Lab Initiative energy representative selected from each lab will pursue energy use goals, connect with other lab representatives and lead discussions. They also will audit their lab’s energy consumption using an optimizer tool on greenlabs.wustl.edu.

“The centerpiece of the program is a peer-to-peer network of Green Lab Representatives in the Brauer Labs that are tasked with auditing their labs for energy usage and spreading knowledge on green chemicals, recycling and energy usage to their labmates,” Fischer says.

Each laboratory in Brauer Hall has been fitted with a meter to take readings from equipment and lighting.

After taking an inventory of the lab, the lab’s equipment and an estimate of how much it is used can be added to the optimizer. The optimizer will take that information, build a target energy reduction goal and show ways to meet that goal.

The Green Labs Initiative website, greenlabs.wustl.edu, will be central to the success of the program. Among its features are the optimizer tool; live energy usage graphs for labs in Brauer Hall; a Wiki-style blog for sharing energy saving best practices with different types of equipment; and how-to videos.