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Env Aspects Of Labs


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Overview of the Environmental Aspects of Labs and developing issues

Overview of the Environmental Aspects of Labs and developing issues

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  • 1. Laboratory Design and Operation for a Sustainable Planet:Building Gates and Removing Fences
    Division of Chemical Health and Safety
  • 2. Balancing Safety and Sustainability in Lab BuildingsRalph Stuart, CIHStephen Posner
  • 3. Environmental Aspects and Impacts of Laboratories
    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
    EPA’s Higher Education enforcement initiative
    Emergency Response
    Teaching and Research
  • 4. Ventilation
    • UVM Campus wide impact:
    • 5. Between 4 and 8 times as much energy per sq foot relative to other campus spaces
    • 6. Energy use associated with labs is high value – 10 times as much income as energy expense at UVM
    • 7. Design Issues
    • 8. Ventilation rates range from 6 to 10 air changes per hour; a wide range considering operational cost impact
    • 9. Design rates are speculative and primarily based on control of fire hazard and odors
    • 10. There are behavior change opportunities with regard to ventilation, but facility design is the driving force in the environmental footprint
    • 11. EPA Labs-21 program for lab design
  • 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.
  • 12. 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
  • 13. 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
  • 14. Environmental Regulations
    • RCRA and state variations for hazardous waste
    • 15. CERCLA for emergency planning
    • 16. CWA and local regulations for sewer disposal
    • 17. CAA and local regulations for fume hood exhaust
    • 18. HAZWOPER for spill clean up
    • 19. Whatever carbon rules come down
    • 20. Miscellaneous materials (asbestos, PCBs, Hg, pharmaceuticals, etc.)
    • 21. Electronic virtual campus
  • 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:
  • 22. 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
  • 23.
  • 24. 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.