Sustainability Resources

Lab Best Practices (adapted from the University of Toronto Sustainability office)

Freezer management

  • Purchase energy efficient equipment
  • Conduct freezer clean-outs annually to avoid overcrowding
  • Ensure the freezer has enough ventilation space, and clean dust off the coils at the back of the freezer
  • Adjust the setting of the freezers from -80C to -70C, if -80C conditions are not needed
  • Sharing cold rooms offers better energy performance, back-up emergency power, heat recovery, and more efficient use of space

Fume hoods

  • Sash is shut when not in use to contain substances
  • Conduct regular spot-checks to ensure that lab users implement proper fume hood sash closing behaviour
  • Request for unneeded or unused fume hoods to be hibernated

Lighting and power

  • Utilize multi-outlet strips in workspaces to reduce miscellaneous plug loads
  • Disconnect unused equipment to reduce electrical plug load
  • Turn off laboratory equipment when not in use, especially anything with a heating function (e.g. heating blocks, microscopes)
  • Use timers on equipment so that they automatically turn off when not in use
  • Utilize “power-down” and “lights out” reminder stickers on laboratory computers and beside light switches
  • Immediately report leaky faucets to Engineering
  • Shut off taps when not in use
  • Utilize low flow aerators on faucets
  • Only run dishwashers at full capacity
  • Limit the production from reverse osmosis distilled water systems to what is needed for research
  • Use glassware instead of plasticware
  • Purchase from vendors that reduce their packaging or use more sustainable packaging
  • Invest in long-lasting items and equipment that will not have to be replaced frequently
  • Create inventory management checklists to avoid spoilage or over purchasing
  • Collaborate with other labs to share resources such as unused equipment, reagents/chemicals, or consumables
  • Recycle items that cannot be reused
  • Prioritize the prevention of chemical waste
  • Minimize the use of temporary derivatives
  • Design chemicals that degrade and can be discarded easily
  • Take advantage of energy/appliance rebate programs for appliances and equipment
  • Consult energy efficient procurement purchasing guides, if applicable
  • Use the 4-R hierarchy (refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle) before purchasing, and consider lifecycle thinking when selecting research equipment or laboratory supplies

Creating a Green Lab - Helpful Links


LEAF (Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework) is a green lab standard designed to improve the sustainability and efficiency of laboratories. The LEAF programme is a self-assessment tool targeted at research, teaching and medical laboratories. LEAF contains actions that lab users can take to save plastics, water, energy and other resources. By taking part in the programme, laboratories reduce their carbon emissions and create an environment that supports research quality. For more information, visit LEAF.

My Green Lab

A broad green labs resource offering green lab certifications, green challenges, knowledge, labels and grades for research product sustainability, green chemistry, and more. For more information, visit My Green Lab.

Lab Conscious

Lab Conscious is an open resource and blog for the life science community to reduce laboratory waste, use green chemistry, conserve water, and save energy. Their website includes reusable options for laboratory supplies and equipment to replace commonly used plastic, single-use items. For more information, visit Lab Conscious.

Freezer Challenge 

Thousands of scientists around the world compete in the free International Laboratory Freezer Challenge each year to learn how to be more energy efficient with their lab’s cold storage, improve sample accessibility, reduce risk, and save costs for their institutions. Second only to fume hoods, your lab’s cold storage (refrigerators, freezers, cold rooms) is likely the next biggest category of energy consumers in your lab space. Ready to do something about that? Visit The Freezer Challenge for more information.

Shut the Sash Program

Did you know that if left open, fume hoods use roughly 3.5x the energy of a house? You can save up to 60% of energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by closing the sash. Remember to close your sash each time you walk away from the hood—and remind your lab-mates to do the same! To learn more, visit Shut the Sash.