Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 60.83
Liaison Parker Long
Submission Date March 2, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Virginia Commonwealth University
IN-9: Green Laboratories

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.50 / 0.50 Joseph Costa
Sustainability Projects and Program Coordinator
"---" 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:

Green Lab Certification
Fume hoods
1)Does your lab have variable air volume (VAV) fume hoods?
Variable Air Volume (VAV) fume hoods that have a face velocity control, which varies the amount of air exhausted from the fume hood in response to the sash opening to maintain a constant face velocity. VAV hoods provide significant energy savings by reducing the flow rate from the hood when the sash is closed.
2)Does your lab have an enforced policy regarding closing the sash of fume hoods?
The energy savings from lowering the sash in a VAV fume hood can be upwards of 40%.
3)Is there appropriate signage at each fume hood informing and reminding individuals of fume hood policy? (red to green arrow)
Signage can help to remind those in the lab of sustainability best practices.
4)Is there a policy in your lab to consolidate work to a single fume hood when possible?
Consolidating workspace may allow you to keep a fume hood closed.
5)Are the only chemicals stored in fume hoods those that require ventilation?
Storing items and chemicals in a fume hood unnecessarily interferes with air flow and may reduce the safety of the hood.
6)Are tissue culture hoods turned off completely when not in use? Is UV light sterilization set to a 30-minute maximum?
Tissue Culture hoods use a lot of energy, keeping them off, and making sure you don’t leave the UV light running will help your lab run more efficiently.
Cold Storage
7)Does your lab maintain door seals to freezers and have a posted freezer maintenance policy/schedule?
Unmaintained, loose, or leaky door seals allow cold air to escape from the freezer, causing the freezer compressor to have to work harder than it should. Door seals should be regularly checked (e.g. for excess ice) to ensure that the freezer runs efficiently.
ULT Freezers benefit greatly from regular maintenance both in terms of energy efficiency and life span. Freezer maintenance typically includes cleaning the foam filter, condenser fins, condenser fan blades, and wiping down the compressors and other components. Full freezer maintenance procedure can be found in the owner’s guide, as well as online.
Ice built up on the inside of a freezer and dust blocking the outside coils forces the freezer to consume more energy to maintain the temperature. Regularly defrosting the freezer and vacuuming the coils helps the freezer run more efficiently.
8)Is your freezer set to the highest temperature possible for the material you are working with?
Most sample and specimens can remain safely frozen at temperatures higher than most ULTs operate at
Turning up (or chilling up) an ultra-low temperature freezer can result in significant energy savings. An adjustment from -80 to -70 can save 20-30% of energy used annually.
9)Is DNA stored at -20C?
DNA often doesn’t require the freezer to be set to its lowest setting.
10)Has your lab created a posted spreadsheet or database of frozen samples?
Having a database of samples for your freezer helps prevent the build-up of old, unneeded samples. Old samples can easily crowd out existing freezers, resulting in new freezers needing to be purchased. It also can cut down on unnecessary opening of the freezer door.
11)Does your lab make your freezer available to others in the building to consolidate space?
Many Labs don’t utilize their full freezer, by sharing space with labs close to yours you can potentially take entire freezers out of use.
12)Is your freezer kept filled to increase thermal mass?
Keeping freezers full provides thermal mass, making it easier for the freezer to maintain its temperature. Make sure you don’t overfill freezers as this will inhibit proper air flow.
13)Does your lab have a policy against using incubators as refrigerators?
Incubators use significantly more energy than refrigerators, do not use incubators as storage space and shut them down when not in use.

14)Do you have a designated individual that manages the cold storage inventory and is responsible for scheduling freezer maintenance?
Having a designated individual be responsible for cold storage ensures that maintenance gets done regularly, helping the freezer to run optimally.
15)Are your lab’s freezers located next to each other?
16)Are they positioned to be near exhaust vents?
Ultra-low temperature freezers generate a lot of heat. This heat is typically dissipated into the room, causing the AC to work harder than it would otherwise need to. By putting these freezers in rows the heat is concentrated in one place, and by putting them next to the exhaust, the concentrated heat is more quickly and easily removed from the room.
17)Does your lab utilize high density sample containers to save space?
High density sample containers occupy smaller volumes per sample and therefore consume less energy per sample volume than lower density containers.
18)Does your lab supply appropriately sized containers for ice, dry ice, and liquid nitrogen?
Having appropriately sized containers prevents overfilling and waste.
19)Does your lab store chemicals and specimens at room temperature whenever appropriate?
Some samples can be stored safely at room temperature using a variety of techniques. This can save a tremendous amount of energy by potentially removing entire freezers from use.
20)Does your lab regularly eliminate old, unnecessary, or redundant samples from your freezers?
Regular cleanouts of your freezer can free up space and potentially allow you to take a freezer offline.
21)Does your lab have an Energy Star rated freezer?
Energy Star rated appliances and equipment are the industry standard for efficiency.
22)Are old freezers recycled and replaced with more efficient models?
Outdated and old freezers can use up to double the amount of energy a newer more efficient model does.
Each ULT annually uses an equivalent amount of electricity as a typical single family home, as well as incurring maintenance costs. When a freezer fails, samples may be lost permanently or damaged, jeopardizing research projects and data archives.
23)Are thermostats set to an appropriate temperature for the season and work being conducted?
Whenever possible, set your thermostat to 68 in the winter and 75 in the summer to limit excess heating and cooling.
24)Are thermostats free, unblocked, and not being influenced by any point heat source?
There are a lot of sources of heat in laboratories. Keeping hot equipment away from thermostats allows them to function properly.
25)Does your lab have LED lighting?
LEDs have longer lifespans than CFLs, and are more efficient
26)Does your lab have lighting motion sensors?
27)Does your lab have zone lighting?
28)Does your lab have motion sensors for individual zones?
Motion sensors, especially zoned lighting sensors can tremendously improve lighting efficiency in your lab
29)Does your lab have a policy to turn off lights and use daylight whenever possible?
Keeping the lights off whenever possible is an easy way for your lab to save a lot of energy.
30)Does your lab have task lights to avoid using overhead lights?
31)Are these lights LED?
Task lights are much lower wattage than overhead lamps and draw less power.
32)Are the light switches in your lab labelled for function?
Light switch labels can eliminate confusion as well as saving energy by not powering on the wrong lights.
33)Has your lab replaced Argon and HeNe gas lasers with solid state lasers where possible?
Solid state lasers are more energy efficient and last longer than gas lasers. Gas lasers also generate a lot of heat, requiring the rooms in which they reside to be kept much cooler than most other spaces, which can put a strain on the AC in the building.
34)Do your lab’s computers enter power save mode when not in use?
Having your computer and monitor set to enter power saving mode is an easy step to take to reduce energy.
35)Are all computers turned off in your lab when there is no immediate use for them?
Keeping computers and other electronics powered off when not in use is a simple way to make your lab more efficient.
Instruments and Equipment
36)Does your lab have a policy to power down all equipment not in use?
Leaving equipment on may seem convenient, but it is a source of a lot of energy waste in labs.
37)Does your lab have posted green lab procedures to remind individual on how to work sustainably in a lab?
Posted sustainability procedures helps to educate and remind individuals how small behavior changes can help make your lab run much more efficiently and sustainably.
38)Are your lab’s instruments labeled with a start-up/shut-down procedure?
39)Does this procedure include information like warm up time to prevent equipment from being left on when not in use?
Labeling instruments with a start-up/shut-down procedure ensures that equipment is turned off properly when not in use. Leaving equipment on unnecessarily can shorten its lifespan and waste energy.
40)Has your lab checked all equipment for energy-saving modes?
Some laboratory equipment have setting that allow you to reduce their electrical draw both while in use, and when on standby.
41)Has your lab made use of advanced power strips to reduce the power draw of equipment in standby mode?
Advanced power strips can be used to reduce electrical drawer of equipment without unplugging all equipment nightly
42)Is there posted signage to make your lab aware of which pieces of equipment use the most energy?
Being aware of the big energy users in your lab can help you to plan work and experiments to minimize waste.
43)Does your lab use outlet timers to prepare equipment to be ready for morning use?
If you need something to be at a certain temperature when you come back in the morning you can use an outlet timer. Outlet timers allow you to turn on equipment at a particular time so that it is ready when you need it.
44)Is all the equipment in your lab the appropriate size for your lab’s use needs?
Using oversized equipment for small tasks is an easily preventable waste of energy in the lab.
45)When purchasing new equipment, does your lab look into buying Energy Star rated appliances and instrumentation?
Making sure you purchase equipment that is the right size for your lab, this saves energy and space. Many new pieces of lab equipment have environmentally-conscious or energy saving features.
Window & Door Policy
46)Are hallway doors kept closed to allow for room ventilation to run as designed?
Laboratories are designed to sit at a negative pressure relative to the corridor outside, to keep contaminants in. If you leave the door open, the ventilation system cannot work as designed, and fans must work harder to try to maintain their specified pressure.
47)Is it your lab’s policy to keep windows closed when heating or cooling is occurring?
Laboratories are conditioned with 100% outside air and undergo frequent air changes. Leaving windows open make this process even more energy intensive negatively affecting the efficiency of the HVAC system.
48)Has your lab eliminated the use of space heaters?
Space heaters are a very energy intensive piece of equipment. If your lab is too cold, you should reach out to facilities.

49)Does your lab have low flow aerators installed on all the faucets in your lab?
Standard water flow for aerators is 2.2 gpm, water saving flow is 1.5 gpm- saving up to 30% more water compared to standard flow, aerators designed for maximum water savings have a flow of 1.0 gpm which saves 55% more water than a standard flow.
50)Is there a designated individual in your lab to report any leaks in your faucets to facilities?
A dripping faucet can waste more than 600 gallons a year.
51)Does your lab wash using basins when applicable?
Using successive basins to wash large volumes of lab ware can save significant amounts of water
Vacuum Aspirators
52)Has your lab replaced any water aspirators with a vacuum pump?
53)If your lab uses a water aspirator, is the water recycled through a closed loop system?
Water aspirators consume nearly 15 liters per minute. A vacuum pump is often available for the same task, and using one will save 900 liters/hour.
Ice and Cooling
54)Does your lab have posted signs to reduce ice waste?
A typical ice maker uses 2-3x more water than is actually needed to make the ice you use.
55)Does your lab use a recirculating loop rather than single-pass cooling for instruments when possible?
Water is often used to cool solvent distillations or the condensers in icemakers, etc. They do not need to run continuously. The water and energy loss can be reduced with timers on continuous or critical water use.
The U.S. EPA has ranked the elimination of single-pass cooling systems #4 on its list of top ten water management techniques
56)Does your lab have a policy to only run the Autoclave at full capacity?
57)Does your lab have a policy to turn off all autoclaves not currently in use?
Washing lab ware is one of the primary uses of water in a laboratory. Autoclaves use a considerable amount of water, some as much as 2500 gallons/day. Turning an autoclave off, or putting it into standby mode can save up to 70% of the water typically used in a day.
58)Does your lab use a water-miser or similar device to limit the amount of tempering water used?
Steam sterilizers waste gallons of water by using continuous cold water to temper steam condensate. Water-misers monitor the drain temperature and applies cold water only when needed. Water-misers save approximately 45-50 gallons per hour per sterilizer
Appropriate Quality Water
59)Does your lab have a policy to limit high quality water use only to necessary applications?
60)Does your lab limit the use of water stills by using distillation and reverse osmosis methods whenever possible?
High-quality water (e.g. distilled water) is the result of a very energy-intensive process

Waste & Recycling
Inventory Management
61)Does your lab have a designated individual to keep track of inventory?
Inventory management leads to cost savings by saving time, avoiding duplicate purchases, and reducing waste.
62)Does your lab have regular clean outs to consolidate space and eliminate unused material and equipment?
Regular clean outs prevent over ordering, and frees up valuable work space.
63)Does your lab have a policy to purchase reduced toxicity products when possible?
Many products have reduced toxicity alternatives that ca be used, contact your vendors to find out what’s available.
64)Does your lab purchase with ecofriendly packaging taken into consideration?
Contact your vendors to see if reduced or alternative packaging is available.
Waste Reduction
65)Has your lab identified the 5 largest or most valuable waste streams being produced?
Doing an audit of your waste stream can help you to develop waste minimization strategies to help change the areas in which you are underperforming.
66)Has your lab been able to successfully divert any of these waste stream to being reused or recycled?
Waste can be reduced by choosing reusable products over disposables, what can’t be reused can often be recycled
67)Does your lab use glass pipettes rather than disposable pipettes?
Switching from plastic to glass pipettes is a simple way to reduce both cost and waste.
68)Have you contacted your vendor regarding equipment or material buy-back programs?
69)Are you part of a vendor sponsored buy-back program?
Several vendors will take back materials such as pipet-tip boxes, packaging, certain solvents, and even oil.
70)Does your lab have a policy against mixing hazardous and non-hazardous waste?
Mixing hazardous and no-hazardous waste is detrimental to the environment, and potentially damaging to people’s health.
General Recycling
71)Does your lab have recycling bins for glass/metal/plastic?
Recycling is single stream at VCU, broken or defective supplies can often be recycled.
72)Does your lab have a recycling container for batteries and electronics?
Recycling and electronics should not be recycled conventionally or put in a landfill because they potentially contain hazardous material.
73)Does your lab use rechargeable batteries when available?
Rechargeable batteries are a good way to reduce waste and cost.
74)Does your lab send foam packing products to a storeroom or shipping store for reuse?
Styrofoam is a petroleum-based material that is not biodegradable and is difficult to recycle. The best way to reduce the amount of Styrofoam created is to re-use what you have and try to avoid buying products that have Styrofoam packaging.
75)Does your lab participate in a nitrile glove recycling program?
Kimberly-Clark has a nitrile glove recycling program
Paper and Printing
76)Does your lab purchase chlorine free and recycled-content paper?
Purchasing recycled content paper is an easy way for your lab to reduce its environmental impact.
77)Does your lab have a double sided printing policy?
Double sided printing is a simple way to reduce paper consumption and cost in your lab.
78)Does your lab print using vegetable based ink?
Soy and vegetable-based inks that have VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) levels of zero percent, conventional commercial inks have VOC levels of 25-35 percent
79)Does your lab recycle toner and ink cartridges?
Recycling cartridges saves nearly 9600 kg of aluminum, 40 tons of plastic, and 1 million liters of oil for every 100,000 cartridges recycled.
Solvent Recycling
80)Does your lab take part in a solvent recycling program?
81)Does your lab employ use of a solvent distillation machine?
Common laboratory solvents can be recycled and purified through a distillation.

Chemical Waste Minimization
82)Does your lab periodically maintain and review your chemical inventory?
Doing regular chemical inventory is an effective method of saving space, reducing waste, and eliminating over ordering.
83)Does your lab have education or information provided regarding the harmful effects of chemical waste?
Making sure that those who in the lab are conscious of the effect their habits play can lead to a much more sustainable lab.
84)Does your lab employ chemical minimization techniques such as microchemistry?
Microchemistry, which involves carrying out chemical reactions and other laboratory procedures on a smaller scale. In microscale chemistry the amounts of materials used are reduced to 25 to 100 mg for solids (from 10 to 50g) and 100 to 200 μL for liquids (from 100 to 500mL).
85)Is your lab familiar with the ACS 12 Principles of Green Chemistry?
1. Prevention-It is better to prevent waste than to treat or clean up waste after it has been created.
2. Atom Economy-Synthetic methods should be designed to maximize the incorporation of all materials used in the process into the final product.
3. Less Hazardous Chemical Syntheses-Wherever practicable, synthetic methods should be designed to use and generate substances that possess little or no toxicity to human health and the environment.
4. Designing Safer Chemicals-Chemical products should be designed to affect their desired function while minimizing their toxicity.
5. Safer Solvents and Auxiliaries-The use of auxiliary substances (e.g., solvents, separation agents, etc.) should be made unnecessary wherever possible and innocuous when used.
6. Design for Energy Efficiency-Energy requirements of chemical processes should be recognized for their environmental and economic impacts and should be minimized. If possible, synthetic methods should be conducted at ambient temperature and pressure.
7. Use of Renewable Feedstocks-A raw material or feedstock should be renewable rather than depleting whenever technically and economically practicable.
8. Reduce Derivatives-Unnecessary derivatization (use of blocking groups, protection/ deprotection, temporary modification of physical/chemical processes) should be minimized or avoided if possible, because such steps require additional reagents and can generate waste.
9. Catalysis-Catalytic reagents (as selective as possible) are superior to stoichiometric reagents.
10. Design for Degradation-Chemical products should be designed so that at the end of their function they break down into innocuous degradation products and do not persist in the environment.
11. Real-time analysis for Pollution Prevention-Analytical methodologies need to be further developed to allow for real-time, in-process monitoring and control prior to the formation of hazardous substances.
12. Inherently Safer Chemistry for Accident Prevention-Substances and the form of a substance used in a chemical should be chosen to minimize the potential for chemical accidents, including releases, explosions, and fires.
86)Does your lab employ alternate methods to wet chemical spectroscopy? (Such as discrete analyzers and batch chemistry)
Discrete analyzers have become highly automated and are flexible for a variety of analyses. They can be sensitive down to micromolar concentrations
Batch chemistry in 96-well microtiter plates read on an absorbance plate reader has small chemical usage and plate readers are often available as a department resource. There are many methods developed to convert from CFA to microplate methods.
Reduced Toxicity
87)Does your lab use Ethidium Bromide (EtBr) Alternatives?
Ethidium bromide, long used as an inexpensive, sensitive, and stable dye for staining nucleic acids, is a potent mutagen, possible carcinogen and reproductive toxin with significant health risks for researchers
SYBR® Nucleic Acid Stains, EZ-Vision®, GelRedTM & GelGreenTM are some examples of alternative DNA dyes to replace EtBr.
88)Does your lab only purchase RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive) compliant electrical equipment?
RoHS compliant components are tested for the presence of Lead (Pb), Cadmium (Cd), Mercury (Hg), Hexavalent chromium (Hex-Cr), Polybrominated biphenyls (PBB), and Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE)
89)Does your lab limit the use of halogenated reagents whenever possible?
Halogenated organics include DDT, PCBs, and CFCs. These compounds can contaminate water supplies and are known to destroy the ozone. They also have adverse health effects and should be avoided when possible.
90)Does your lab avoid the purchase of products containing PVC, BPA, PBTs, or phthalates whenever possible?
PVC, BPA, PBTs, and phthalates are harmful to the soil and water and should be used only when necessary.
91)Has your lab made an effort to purchase green or less hazardous chemicals when possible?
Many alternatives to toxic and hazardous chemicals exist, especially for experiments in learning labs. Guides to find what chemicals you can replace are available online
92)Does your lab purchase green seal cleaning products whenever possible?
Green alternatives exist for most cleaning products.
Mercury Reduction
93)Has your lab replaced mercury containing metal halide and compact fluorescent lights with LEDs?
LED’s are more efficient than CFLs, last longer, and do not contain mercury.
94)Are metal halide bulbs and CFLs disposed of properly in your lab?
Bulbs in your lab should be disposed of through facilities, they contain mercury and should not be sent to a conventional recycling plant or landfill.
95)Has your lab replaced mercury arc lamps with light engines or LEDs for fluorescence microscopy?
New technology has allowed for the reduction of mercury in laboratory applications.
http://www.bioopticsworld.com/articles/print/volume-6/issue-6/features/fluorescence-microscopy-light-sources-light-engines-lighting-the-way-to-mercury-free-microscopy.html https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1175560-overview
96)Has your lab replaced mercury thermometers with spirit thermometers?
This is an easy way to eliminate mercury from your lab and provide accident due to breakage.
97)Are all the thermostats in your lab mercury free?
Mercury is a health and environmental hazard and should be phased out wherever possible

Communication and Education
98)Are new lab members given an orientation including sustainability best practices?
99)Does your lab conduct regular meetings to address sustainability needs, concerns, and ideas?
100)Have the individuals in your lab been provided educational material, training, or signed a sustainability pledge?
101)Has your lab implemented any additional green lab initiatives not mentioned in this worksheet?
Field Work
102)Does your lab have a policy in place to protect research sites during field work?
103)Does your lab have a “leave no trace” policy for field work?
104)Does your lab use GHG reduction strategies while travelling?
Enforcement & Regular Inspections
105)Does your lab have a designated individual for green lab initiates and policies?
106)Does your lab conduct regular inspections and audits regarding green lab initiatives and policies?
107)Has your lab had its green lab policies and initiatives peer reviewed by another lab?
108)Has your lab been inspected by a representative from the Office of Sustainability?
109)Have you inspired another lab to participate in the green labs program?
110)Does your lab have a channel of communication with the Office of Sustainability to help with the continuation and implementation of green lab policies?
The Office of Sustainability can be used as a resource of any Green Lab initiative and should serve as your main point of contact for any support you may need.

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 and complete the Data Inquiry Form.