Spotlight on an Innovative Approach to the Freezer Challenge
This week we'd like to recognize Stacey Baumgarn, the Campus Energy Coordinator for Colorado State University. Colorado State University participated in the Freezer Challenge last year, and this year Stacey was determined to improve their scores. Read his article below to find out more about what he did to rise up to the Challenge.
Starting in the spring of 2015, Colorado State University Facilities Management began offering a $2,000 incentive to researchers on campus – purchase an energy efficient ULT, as a replacement or as an additional freezer, and we will give you $2,000. We were very selective in the models we incentivized, seeking the most efficient full-size models available based on kWh/day/cf. In the first two years only a few researchers took us up on our offer. Getting the word out was harder than we expected. But, the idea of Facilities Management giving a researcher money still seemed like a great offer, so we persisted.
Then, in 2017, through our little $2,000 incentive (equal to five-years of electricity saving) we helped replace 11 energy-hog freezers with energy-efficient models. And, in this first part of 2018, we have already incentivized 14 ULTs! Why has 2018 been so active you ask? The International Laboratory Freezer Challenge has been my best friend.
It happened (believe it or not) that we had a little extra money this spring. We offered to double the incentive to $4,000 for labs who participate and complete a scorecard in the Freezer Challenge – and that is how we encouraged 14 labs (so far) to join! Not every participating lab is buying a new ULT, which is exciting that they are interested in improving the sustainability practices in their labs even without an incentive.
We are very optimistic that participating labs will learn more about ULT best practices through their participation. We have created quite a buzz this year and that should provide a great platform to launch Freezer Challenge participation again next year! And, FYI – in 2017, CSU Facilities Management won an award from our local utility for the “Most Innovative Project”. While we offer our incentive directly to the researchers, we then apply for an efficiency rebate from our utility (they give us $450). What started as a custom rebate process from our utility, is now a prescriptive rebate, just a few clicks away. By our count, this is a win-win-win-win!
Ultra-Ultra-Low Temperature Freezers
Like refrigerators, ultra-ultra-low temperature freezers (UULTs,) are often forgotten about in the Freezer Challenge. But they shouldn't be. Though not nearly as ubiquitous as other forms of cold storage, UULTs can consume 2-3x more energy than a ULT. That's enough energy for 2-3 homes, everyday!
Why do UULTs use so much energy? Because they are typically set to -150C, which is not an easy temperature to maintain.
So if your lab has UULTs, make sure you include them when completing the Freezer Challenge score sheet. Dusting coils, removing old samples, and retiring UULT units can have a significant impact. It's also not uncommon to find samples stored at -150C that do not need to be stored at such a low temperatures. If your samples fall into this category you could score major points -and save lots of energy - by moving them to another type of cold storage unit.
Refrigerators are often overlooked in the Freezer Challenge, probably because they're missing from the title ;) But they are very important, being far more ubiquitous than any other type of cold storage, including ULTs and -20s. In fact, we estimate that there are nearly 1 million refrigerators in labs across the United States alone.
Did you know there are currently 52 ENERGY STAR-certified lab grade refrigerators listed on the EPA's website? And if you don't need a high performance refrigerator, there are literally thousands of residential ENERGY STAR-certified models to choose from. The most efficient refrigerators are those with solid doors, so consider switching away from sliding glass door models if you need to purchase a new refrigerator or replace an old one.
Of course, the most efficient refrigerator is the one you don't have to buy. Remember to inventory and clean out your refrigerators before June 15th - you'll be earning points that many will have forgotten about!