Overall Rating Platinum - expired
Overall Score 85.74
Liaison Moira Hafer
Submission Date June 28, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Stanford University
IN-25: Innovation B

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Moira Hafer
Sustainability Specialist
Office of Sustainability
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Name or title of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Lab Swap Meet

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome that outlines how credit criteria are met and any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation:

In March 2016, Stanford University held its first Lab Swap Meet, an event that takes place over the course of an afternoon where labs can donate items they no longer need and pick up items donated by others that they're able to use. A PhD student at the School of Medicine who was passionate about reducing lab waste conceptualized and organized the first event after seeing that labs often have a lot of equipment and consumable materials that are in good shape, but aren’t usable for their research anymore. Additionally, sharing of lab items was already happening on an ad-hoc basis and this would be an opportunity to both formalize the process and build community around sustainability. The inaugural event was a big hit, with approximately 100 labs attending, $90,000 in research dollars saved from labs reusing the materials instead of having to buy them new, and tons (literally!) of waste being diverted from the landfill. There were a lot of excited scientists that walked away with some very valuable “treasures”, that had minutes earlier been another scientist’s “trash.”

Due to the success of the inaugural Lab Swap Meet, the Office of Sustainability decided to institutionalize the event and offer it biannually, once in the fall and once in the spring. Two additional Lab Swap Meets have now been held, both very popular and impactful. The fall event brought out 50 labs and saved $60,000 in research dollars, and the spring event had over 100 labs attend and saved $110,000 in research dollars. However, the educational impact has been just as important as the resource savings, as most of the attendees (largely research scientists from the School of Medicine and the School of Engineering) do not normally engage in sustainability activities on campus. These events demonstrate that sustainability can be directly beneficial to their work. The following news article from the Stanford Report nicely highlights the value of the Lab Swap Meet: http://news.stanford.edu/2017/04/19/annual-lab-swap-diverts-unused-supplies-landfill/.

Although led by the Office of Sustainability, the event is a partnership between Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S), the Property Management Office, and several graduate student groups. EH&S ensures that donated items are free of hazardous materials and manages the transfer of chemicals between labs. Property Management tracks capital items that are transferred between labs and ensures that whatever is leftover at the end of the day finds a good home beyond Stanford—at the fall sharing event, much of the leftover supplies were donated to a local high school that was starting up its chemistry program. The student groups help advertise the event across campus and provide volunteers to help out at the events.

Although campus reuse programs are not necessarily new, Stanford is unaware of another university that has utilized lab equipment reuse specifically to build engagement in sustainability with a traditionally uninterested segment of the campus population. Additionally, “avoided research dollars spent” seems to be a unique metric of capturing the impact of a sustainability event, but one that resonates well with both scientists and administrative leadership.

Which of the following impact areas does the innovation most closely relate to? (select up to three):
Campus Enagement

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise or a press release or publication featuring the innovation :

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

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