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Energy Efficient Laboratory Equipment

Thursday, October 23
Hosted by the University of California

Laboratory equipment energy use constitutes between 10 to as much as 50 percent of the total energy use in a lab (not including associated cooling energy use). However, there has been little attention paid to this as an area for efficiency improvements, partly because of the real and perceived lack of energy-efficient choices in lab equipment, and the lack of data on energy use characteristics of lab equipment.

The goal of this roundtable was to develop a clearer understanding of lab equipment energy use and efficiency opportunities, and explore potential avenues to encourage market transformation through purchasing specifications that include efficiency criteria. The short-term objectives for the roundtable are to:

  • Examine the needs and opportunities in laboratory equipment efficiency, from the perspective of each participant (users and manufacturer)

  • Discuss and develop a mid- to long-term strategy

  • Discuss the initial step of a scoping study

  • Determine Action items, including the role of each participant and what each will be able to offer (time/effort, info., $, etc.)

Proposed Scoping Study

  • Develop representative inventory of lab equipment.
    Conduct a pilot survey of various laboratories and compile an inventory of lab equipment and its operational characteristics (Labs21 has developed a survey form for this). The scope of this activity may initially be limited to teaching laboratories, since they are more likely to have standard (not custom) equipment.
  • Assess energy efficiency choices and opportunities.
    Work with equipment manufacturers, university personnel, lab designers, and other experts to determine the efficiency opportunities for the equipment. In particular, identify the extent to which there are functionally equivalent alternatives for each type of equipment, and whether energy efficiency is a selection criterion. This information will be used to prioritize the equipment inventory, by areas of greatest impact. Anecdotal evidence suggests that refrigeration equipment is probably the most appropriate equipment to start with, given its history of efficiency improvements.
  • Determine efficiency metrics and identify testing protocols
    Take into account peak demand and total energy use. This will be done in consultation with equipment manufacturers. The need to develop new testing protocols, if any, will be identified.
  • Assess alternative approaches to purchasing specifications
    This assessment will take into account data availability, schedule, and level of effort. Three approaches will be explored:
    1. Labeling based on benchmarking (e.g. EnergyStar)
    2. Features-based approach (e.g. presence of sleep mode);
    3. Requiring efficiency data to be submitted as part of bid documents—for use as one selection criterion (for example, based on life-cycle cost as the sum of purchase price and lifetime energy operating costs).

While this approach does not explicitly specify criteria, it does help develop a database of efficiency data that can in the future be used to develop criteria.

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