Laboratory Design and Operation for a Sustainable Planet:Building Gates and Removing Fences Division of Chemical Health and Safety
Balancing Safety and Sustainability in Lab BuildingsRalph Stuart, CIHStephen Posner
Environmental Aspects and Impacts of Laboratories Ventilation 35-50% of energy for 15% of campus floor space Electricity Use Probably similar to ventilation Solid and Hazardous Wastes Lower financial impact, high regulatory impact Regulation EPA’s Higher Education enforcement initiative Emergency Response Teaching and Research
Ventilation rates range from 6 to 10 air changes per hour; a wide range considering operational cost impact
Design rates are speculative and primarily based on control of fire hazard and odors
There are behavior change opportunities with regard to ventilation, but facility design is the driving force in the environmental footprint
EPA Labs-21 program for lab design http://www.labs21century.gov/
The Safety and Sustainability “Dilemma” Ventilation design has a major impact on laboratory safety, but the best design can easily be overridden by poor use practices Example 1: Fume hoods Containment is provided by the glass sash rather than air flow Keeping the sash as low as possible is the best approach to safety (and can have energy benefits) Example 2: Chemical storage Lab odors often result from poor handling, storage and disposal practices.
Electricity Use Proliferation of instrumentation drives electrical demand Electrical equipment in the laboratory creates a lot of waste heat, which can drive ventilation rates even in non-hazardous areas Example: storage of biological samples at cold temperatures or in freezer farms Labs are not part of the Energy Star universe (See the Labs-21 wiki at http://tinyurl.com/labs21wiki)
Solid and Hazardous Waste Disposal of trash from lab buildings creates the concern of potential contamination with chemical or biological materials. Community perception can drive choices Chemical wastes are regulated by the states and EPA very tightly, which creates significant practical challenges Biowaste regulations are less organized but have practical challenges as well
Education and Research: Green Chemistry EPA / American Chemical Society chemical studies research and education linked to environmental issues Laboratory operations are not thought of as part of this aspect yet MIT green alternatives web site: http://tinyurl.com/mitgcwiz
The Next Frontier: Labs and Climate Change The ACUPCC requires the development of a greenhouse gas inventory and a Climate Action Plan that sets “carbon neutrality” as an institutional goal. Laboratory energy management will be a key component of this plan on research campuses RMI project on identifying institutional challenges to Climate Action Planning EPA regulations on carbon emissions will reinforce this PCC Outreach to the UVM lab population began in January
Conclusions There is the potential that safety and sustainability considerations will compete with each other, both operationally and programmatically Our experience at UVM is that these can be important partners at both levels, but this partnership has to be consciously pursued and coordinated Safety and sustainability professionals can provide coaching to facility and lab staff, but the people “on the ground” are the ones who make progress happen.