Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 67.16
Liaison Mike Versteege
Submission Date June 24, 2020
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Alberta
IN-9: Green Laboratories

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.50 / 0.50 Behn Jang
Program Coordinator, Energy Management and Sustainable Operations
Facilities and Operations
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution’s green laboratory program address the following?:
Yes or No
Energy conservation and efficiency, e.g. fume hood ("shut the sash") and freezer maintenance programs Yes
Water conservation and efficiency Yes
Chemical use and disposal Yes
Materials management, e.g. green purchasing guidelines and recycling and reuse programs Yes
Training for lab users on sustainable practices Yes

A brief description of the green laboratory program, including the specific initiatives selected above:


The Green Labs program includes a number of initiatives designed to help labs operate more sustainably. Current initiatives under this program include Green Spaces for Labs, a Green Labs Leaders’ Network, periodic “Freecycle your Labware” events, an online course to teach lab users about sustainability in labs, and a rebate program for replacing ultra-low temperature freezers with energy efficient models. In the past, the Green Labs program has also funded projects such as swapping out solvent stills to solvent purification systems, which results in water savings.


The Green Spaces program is a way to help the university's campus community integrate sustainable practices into their work and living spaces. Participants can earn a bronze, silver, or gold certification for their office space, lab, event or living space. Green Spaces has many categories that participants are evaluated on, including energy and water consumption, food, waste, transportation, wellness, social sustainability, purchasing, resource use, and communication.

The Green Spaces for Labs certification stream helps research and teaching labs adopt sustainable practices and earn recognition for their efforts. Any research, field or teaching lab at the University of Alberta can be Green Spaces certified by demonstrating best practices for environmental health and safety. A green lab is a safe lab. Everyone working in the lab commits to reducing waste, conserving energy and water and maintaining a safe space. Actions include recycling, turning off unused equipment and finding alternatives to hazardous chemicals. These ideas and others are easily perused in the application and lab users are encouraged to take them on before certification. Successful labs receive a certificate to publicly recognize their bronze, silver or gold certification.

Below are highlights of some specific green labs activities organized according to the list of initiatives selected above:


Lab ULT Freezer Energy Efficiency Rebate Program

Energy Management and Sustainable Operations provides monetary incentives for labs to purchase more energy efficient ultra-low temperature (ULT) freezers. In 2019, 14 old ULTs were retired and 18 new, efficient ULTs were purchased. The estimated savings from these changes is $5,900 and 59,000 kWh per year. Efficiency of ULT units is important because they are some of the biggest consumers of energy in laboratories and are estimated to consume as much energy as a single-family household in Alberta each year.

Shut the Sash Stickers

Shut the Sash stickers are placed on most fume hoods at the university to promote safety and sustainability in fume hood use and conserve energy.


Green Spaces Program Actions

The Green Spaces program includes several actions to promote water conservation in labs, including:
- reporting of leaks and runny taps,
- running glassware washers and autoclaves only when they are full,
- minimizing use of tap water for cooling, and
- installing timers on devices using water.


Recycle Chemical Program

Recycling of chemicals within the university is currently managed by individual departments. We are conducted a pilot test of a laboratory electronic inventory system with two departments, Chemistry and Pharmacy. This inventory program not only allows for development of a chemical database for each laboratory in the pilot but also allows labs to manage their own surplus or recycle materials by transferring the material directly to an interested lab.

Solvent Recycling

In 2015/16 the Department of Chemistry received a grant from the Sustainability Enhancement Fund to purchase a solvent recycling unit for both the undergraduate teaching and research laboratories. The solvent recycler was down due to operational issues for approximately one year, but was restored to working order in September 2019. Since its purchase, approximately 1,444 litres of acetone have been recovered saving approximately $1,140.76 in chemical disposal costs.


Green Spaces Program Actions

The Green Spaces program includes several actions to promote more sustainable materials management, including:
- assess and address gaps in recycling infrastructure,
- recycle glass and plastics that is not contaminated with chemicals or biological hazards,
- flatten and reuse cardboard,
- support battery collection,
- and participation in electronics recycling, and
- Use the UAlberta Green Procurement principles to guide purchasing decisions

Freecycle Your Labware Events

Energy Management and Sustainable Operations (EMSO), in partnership with SMS and Buildings, Grounds, and Environmental Services (BGES) host the "Freecycle Your Labware" swap-and-trade event. The event is an opportunity for labs to donate excess or unused lab supplies, as well as take items from the event for free.

Zero Waste Program and Labs Plastics Recycling Education

All recycling and Zero Waste stations have clear recycling signage aligned with the colour-coded stations. To assist labs with plastics recycling, posters and a plastics recycling game were developed and are used at lab-targeted outreach events several times each year. The posters are available for download so labs can print and post them in their labs.


Green Labs eClass

Launched in 2020, the Green Labs eClass is a joint initiative between Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) and Energy Management and Sustainable Operations (EMSO). The intent of the course is to provide lab users with strategies for more environmentally responsible research and learning. Topics include: Sustainability, Waste handling, Energy reduction, Green chemistry, Water use, Fieldwork & "Leave no trace" principles. The course is freely available from the EHS training website.

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

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.