Sustainability Scoop — May 2020

Now Is the Time to Benchmark Energy and Review Operational Practices

As the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL) continues to monitor the impacts of COVID-19 on our community, we have been looking for opportunities to help labs enhance their sustainability efforts and ensure labs continue to operate safely and efficiently during the pandemic. With labs needing to limit or close operations due to stay-at-home orders, facilities may be using less energy, but future air quality and safety requirements may put added pressure on lab ventilation systems. Now is a good time to take stock of your lab’s performance and plan for a sustainable future:

  • Use evolved operating hours to better understand your facility’s energy use. If your facility is operating at minimum capacity, or if you are moving to longer operating hours with shift work, consider inputting your labs’ energy data from 2019 in the new and improved Lab Benchmarking Tool (LBT) while you have a chance. That way, you’ll be able to compare data from “normal” operation in 2019 to data from 2020 when your labs were impacted by stay-at-home orders. And in addition to showing how your labs’ energy use compares to similar facilities in the United States, the LBT’s Actionable Insights Model can also provide detailed insights to prioritize energy-saving projects under ever-changing construction budgets.
  • Take an Operational Practices Survey to provide useful information for LBT users. I2SL is planning to launch the LBT Operational Practices Module in Fall 2020 to go beyond energy benchmarking and help you understand how your sustainability practices and ventilation policies stack up against those at similar facilities. The survey results will allow us to pre-populate the database to make the module useful from the start. If you’d like to gather your building’s data before completing the survey, check out the questions. If you have any questions about the LBT or the Operational Practices Survey, contact lbt@i2sl.org.
  • Concerned about operating your lab? Hear from a panel of academic and private laboratory industry leaders. I2SL held its first town hall, Returning to the Operational Lab Environment During COVID-19, to discuss strategies and practices to safely and efficiently open labs as stay-at-home orders are lifted. Panelists addressed questions from social distancing to personal protective equipment to operational issues, such as ventilation balancing and controls. I2SL is currently planning the second town hall in this series—stay tuned!

This has been an unparalleled time for all of us in the sustainable laboratory community, but it can also be a time for learning and growth. Use the LBT to collect data that can be used to illustrate how lab energy usage changes with varying budget and personnel capacities. Many of you have already created new innovative strategies to maintain sustainability and efficiency, while adapting to social distancing measures. We look forward to seeing how you continue to engage with one another to share ideas and work through these challenges together.

Learn how to incorporate sustainable procurement into your lab’s management plan with the free webinar Doing Good While Doing Your Job—Moving Toward a Circular Economy (during this time of Coronavirus) on May 27, from 3:00 p.m. to 4:20 p.m. Eastern. The webinar will also cover ways to save money to reduce financial strain during this time of crisis and share available resources to help safely secure and maintain labs and specialty facilities.

If you have any relevant information you’d like to share about COVID-19 and labs, please send it to info@i2sl.org and we’ll add it to I2SL’s E-Library’s Pandemic Readiness and Response section. You can also check out I2SL’s upcoming trainings or revisit I2SL past High-Tech Talks. Stay safe!