Welcome to the first blog post of the 2021 Freezer Challenge! These posts will hit your inbox periodically over the next five months with tips, interesting factoids, and updates on the challenge.
The following is an excerpt from an article originally published in Lab Manager in January 2021:
Bringing laboratory cold storage out of the shadows and into the light
They lurk in hallways and equipment rooms, ever-present, ever-consuming, absolutely essential to the vast majority of scientific research endeavors, and yet usually neglected unless they cause trouble. Laboratory refrigerators and freezers should be recognized for what they are: incredibly useful tools and also outsized energy consumers. At least 58,000 ultralow temperature freezers (-70°C), 74,000 -20°C freezers, and 94,000 refrigerators exist within the scientific sector in California alone, consuming a combined conservative estimate of 780 Gwh/year. In California alone. That is the approximate energy use of 63,000 homes over the course of a year. Imagine the global impact of this type of equipment.
The International Laboratory Freezer Challenge, now in its fifth year, seeks to help scientists realize the variety of benefits that result from dedicating a small amount of time and effort to their refrigerators and freezers each year. These benefits include:
What began as a small competition rooted in sound best practices has now grown to global scale, attracting the participation of 88 different research institutions in 2020 alone. It isn’t too late to join the 2021 Freezer Challenge either—there are still five months left before this year’s deadline of July 1, 2021. By participating, you can be a part of the 9.9 million kWh/year saved over the past five years. That’s enough to offset the carbon emissions associated with driving over 15 million miles! Winners of the Freezer Challenge are recognized at the annual International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL) Conference and featured in an article in the journal Nature.
View the full article on Lab Manager here.
Sustainable Procurement & the ACT Label
Not only is Eppendorf the Gold Sponsor of the International Laboratory Freezer Challenge this year, but they also just went through the process of getting four models of ultra-low temperature freezers that they manufacture ACT Labeled. What is the ACT Label, you ask? It is another program of My Green Lab!
The opportunity to reduce the environmental impact of laboratories through smarter purchases is tremendous. The ACT label is the premier eco-nutrition label for laboratory products, including consumables, chemicals, and equipment. By emphasizing accountability, consistency, and transparency (ACT) around manufacturing, energy and water use, packaging, and end-of-life, ACT makes it easy to choose safe, sustainable products. ACT-Labeled products are independently audited by SMS Collaborative and verified by My Green Lab. You can view all the chemicals, consumables, and equipment that are now ACT Labeled in the ACT Database.
Eppendorf has been incredibly supportive of the Freezer Challenge for many years, and now they are showing further dedication to the laboratory sustainability movement by participating in the ACT Label Program.
"The ACT Label provides scientists in labs all over the world guidance about the environmental impact of the products used in their lab. We at Eppendorf see the ACT Label as an additional building block for a sustainable future, especially since all supplier data are reviewed by SMS Collaborative and My Green Lab as third parties. We see a growing number of questions and requests from users worldwide for information about the sustainability of products from Eppendorf – the ACT label is one of our answers. We are proud to have the first ACT Labeled ULT freezers." Statement by Jan Bebermeier, PhD, Global Marketing Manager at Eppendorf AG in Germany.
Congratulations to Eppendorf!! There are just **two** weeks left of the Freezer Challenge! Turn those scoresheets in! Deadline is August 1, 2020.
Keep calm, but keep rocking on with the Freezer Challenge because there are just three weeks left to finish those final sustainable actions on the scoresheet before you must turn it in. What's that final thing you have time to do? Can you find a friend in the lab and together, get it done?
Even if you feel like you haven't had enough time or haven't dedicated enough time to work through your scoresheet, that's okay! Even if you just took one action on your scoresheet since December 1, 2019, please still turn it in to us! The points you earn are contributing to a wider measurement of the global actions that have been taken for the Freezer Challenge this year. Plus, if there are other labs at your institution also participating, your lab's actions could mean the difference between winning Top Organization in your research sector - or somebody else winning that spot!
So, stay positive, rock on, fill out that scoresheet, and set yourself a reminder to turn it in to us by August 1, 2020!
Laboratories can find many reasons to share cold storage space, whether it be a refrigerator in a convenient location between lab bays, an ultra-low temperature freezer in an equipment room, or even a cryo-storage unit in a cell culture facility. Given that many cold storage options consume significant energy, especially ultra-low temperature freezers and mechanical ultra-ultra-low units, considering and trying to share cold storage can be beneficial for you, the planet, and for science.
Here are a few examples of why you might decide to share cold storage space:
If you have concerns about sharing cold storage space, try starting off the arrangement by setting clear expectations with everyone involved, outlining rules and responsibilities for protecting everyone's samples, and posting important contact information on the outside of the refrigerator or freezer.
Reminder that the end of the 2020 Freezer Challenge is fast approaching! Get your scoresheets turned in before August 1st.
There are five weeks left in the 2020 International Laboratory Freezer Challenge, and we hope the past six months has given your lab ample opportunity to assess your cold storage practices, become more energy efficient, and protect your research samples. If your laboratory has already finishing documenting their sustainable actions on the Freezer Challenge scoresheet, feel free to submit it early. Otherwise, be sure to get your scoresheet in by midnight on August 1. Don't forget to submit your scoresheet, because winning the Freezer Challenge comes with some amazing perks! If your lab wins one of the individual categories or your institution wins one of the organizational categories, you get your photo in Nature this fall, plus you will be recognized at the International Institute for Sustainable Labs Annual Conference in October.
For a bit of nostalgia, and to spur on the competition, check out the laboratories and institutions that won the Freezer Challenge in 2019 and were featured in Nature.
If you don't know how to access your scoresheet, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.