Plug Loads, Procurement, and Efficiency, Oh My!: The Hidden Costs of Research Equipment

James Connelly, My Green Lab

Plug loads from research equipment are significant contributors to a laboratory use of resources. Some ultra-low freezers use the same amount of energy used by the average household in a single day. Autoclaves dump nearly 1,000 gallons of water down the drain every day. In this session, My Green Lab will share insight into the hidden impacts of research equipment. We will cover a wide range of strategies for mitigating plug loads, including recent research on the energy and water use of autoclaves, the International Freezer Challenge, and the ACT label—a nutrition label for lab equipment that guides organizations in the purchasing of resource efficient research equipment. We will also hear from the perspective of manufacturers on how the technology of key equipment plays a large role in energy and water consumption for laboratories.

Attendees will walk away from this session with the tools needed to understand the hidden source of plug loads in laboratories, and how informed use combined with sustainable procurement can reduce operation costs.

Learning Objectives

  • Identify the impact of plug loads on laboratory energy and water consumption;
  • Analyze the energy and water consumption for key equipment, including ultra-low temperature freezers and autoclaves;
  • Understand efficiency baselines for autoclaves to be able to benchmark equipment and select products with reduced operational impact; and
  • Explain the ACT label and how to leverage that program to enable sustainable purchasing for laboratory products.


One of the most influential leaders in the sustainability & green building movement today, James is a frequent keynote speaker on regenerative design, sustainable business & lab sustainability. He received a 2012 Fulbright Research Fellowship in China, was selected as Greenbiz 30 under 30 Sustainable Business Leader & a Net Zero Energy Trailblazer.


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