Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 68.77
Liaison Marianne Martin
Submission Date Nov. 9, 2010
Executive Letter Download

STARS v1.0

University of Colorado Boulder
IN-2: Innovation 2

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Susan Beckett
Manager, Energy/Climate Program
CU Environmental Center
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:

Laboratory Water and Energy Efficiency Program (LWEEP)

Laboratories are important centers of intellectual innovation and discovery in our society. They also consume large amounts of energy and water. CU has more than 400 laboratories on its Boulder campus. These laboratories typically consume 5-7 times more energy than classroom or office space.

LWEEP strives to accomplish its goals of energy and water efficiency without compromising the integrity of the world-class research done in CU labs.

LWEEP is collaboration between the CU Facilities Management, the CU Environmental Center and the Vice Chancellor’s Sustainability Action Teams.

The mission of LWEEP is to use energy and water efficiently in laboratories by:
1) Involving individual laboratory members in identifying opportunities for efficiency in their laboratory and promoting efficient behavior among laboratory members,
2) Upgrading inefficient laboratory equipment and
3) Minimizing unnecessary and duplicate equipment.

While laboratories present huge opportunities for conservation, it is something that most campuses have not been able to address.

There are many ways to reduce energy and water usage in each lab depending on the type of equipment; therefore we tailor our outreach to specific labs by recruiting EcoLeader representatives from each lab. EcoLeaders are typically graduate students or post-doctorates that can help identify ways that labs could increase their resource efficiency. Over 70 students and lab researchers have been trained in setting fume hood sash heights, optimizing temp settings on refrigeration equipment, equipment maintenance, timer provision and installation/use, identification and retirement of obsolete equipment, etc.

While the need for this type of program seems obvious, CU is one of the only campuses that has been able to successfully address the energy and water usage in laboratories. One reason we have been successful is the close working relationship with Facilities Management, Environmental Health and Safety, and the Environmental Center. This collaboration has given the program an elevated level of respect among the CU scientific community.

Another reason the program has flourished is because it furnishes fiscal resources and/equipment. Labs are paid cash awards to retire obsolete equipment. Timers and other conservation equipment is purchased and installed in cooperating labs. FM and EC budgets supply resources for these--no lab/research budgets are impacted.

Laboratories can apply for a $500 to retire unused fume hoods plus the cost to remove the hood. Laboratories can also apply for $150-$1,000 plus disposal fee to retire or replace inefficient refrigerators and freezers. Free equipment timers are provided upon request and after evaluation to ensure safety. Raffle contests for $125 gift cards to local restaurants are conducted to promote changes in the labs such as turning equipment off when not needed, raising the temperature of Ultra-Low Temperature freezers from -80C to -70C, and shutting the sash on variable air volume hoods when not in use.

This innovation is also successful because the lead staffer is herself a researcher. A recent Ph.D. in chemistry was hired to work part time rolling out this program. As she was already "on the inside," she was able to quickly generate discussion with lab personnel about the program, gain their cooperation, and apply her in-depth knowledge of lab practices to serve as an expert consultant through CU's sprawling lab complexes.

The program has proven results. In only the first 8 months of LWEEP's existence, efforts resulted in 138,000 kwh electricity savings and has a goal of reducing wastewater discharge by nearly 3 million gallons.

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise:
The website URL where information about the innovation is available:

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