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Promoting Energy Efficient Laboratory Appliances in a University Setting

Susan Kulakowski and Alicia Aponte, Stanford University

My presentation will share the progress of our efforts to promote the use of more energy-efficient laboratory appliances at Stanford University. I will begin with some background information about a survey that Stanford's Utilities Division conducted in the spring of 2002, which measured the energy consumption of refrigerators and freezers in two large laboratory buildings. I will discuss how the survey's analysis enabled us to recommend three initiatives designed to increase use of energy-efficient laboratory equipment on campus.

After this brief introduction, I will present each initiative and discuss our current progress in achieving its goals. I will begin by discussing our project to replace all of the refrigerators and freezers in the "worst" lab (in terms of the number of old, inefficient units) of those surveyed. This will be followed by a description of how we created and implemented a financial incentive program to encourage "early retirement" of inefficient refrigerators and freezers throughout campus. Finally, I will finish my presentation by sharing our progress in developing procurement policies and practices that encourage energy-efficient laboratory appliance purchases.

Labs21 Connection:

My presentation will address an often-ignored aspect of laboratory energy use; the electricity and heat removal requirements associated with appliances and other "plug loads". Stanford University's survey of two large biology buildings revealed that refrigerators and freezers alone accounted for over three percent (3%) of total building electricity use, valued at $30,000 annually, plus roughly $14,000 per year in chilled water costs for heat removal.

Our follow-up project to replace all of the old refrigerator/freezer units in the "worst" lab surveyed is noteworthy because it demonstrates that high-end refrigeration equipment is not needed for all laboratory applications. Our refrigerator replacement incentive program is unique not only because it was developed on the basis of survey research, but because it is funded and administered internally. Finally, the dialogue between Stanford's Utilities Division and Procurement Office about developing more energy-efficient laboratory equipment purchasing practices has led to another rebate program that should further reduce campus energy use. This last initiative, specifically, has expanded beyond the laboratory setting and as such we consider our approach of interest to other institutions with similar conditions.


Susan Kulakowski is the Campus Energy Manager for Stanford University, where her primary focus is on finding ways to improve energy and water use efficiency in academic facilities. Prior to returning to Stanford three years ago she was a Senior Project Manager at Energy Solutions, where she worked with such clients as Pacific Gas & Electric Company, the City of Oakland, and the California Board for Energy Efficiency. Ms. Kulakowski has a BA from Stanford and a MS from the Energy and Resources Group at UC Berkeley.

Alicia Aponte is the Campus Energy Management Intern for Stanford University. Her primary focus is on energy and water conservation research, as it relates to academic facilities and on-campus housing. Ms. Aponte is currently pursuing both a BS and MS degree in the Earth Systems department at Stanford University.

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