Sustainability Scoop — September 2021

Freezer Challenge Winners Take Efficiency to a New Degree

This summer was a hot one, but the participants of 2021’s International Laboratory Freezer Challenge found ways to keep their cold storage energy bills from heating up too much! Over 300 laboratories from around the world representing 113 different research institutions competed in the 2021 Freezer Challenge, co-sponsored by My Green Lab and the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL). Challenge winners were determined based on the amount of energy saved; they earned points by taking simple actions such as temperature tuning, better maintaining existing freezers, replacing old freezers with more efficient models, and other cold storage best practices.

This year’s participants contributed to a combined energy savings of 4.3 million kilowatt hours per year—up from 3.2 million kWh per year by last year’s participants. These savings are equivalent to reducing carbon emissions by 3,000 metric tons per year! My Green Lab and I2SL are excited to announce the 2021 Freezer Challenge winners. This year’s organizational winners are:

  • Academic: University of Alabama Birmingham
  • Biotech/Biopharma: AstraZeneca
  • Government: The National Institutes of Health
  • Hospital/Clinical: Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Australia

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, which would have earned the award for academic organizations for the fourth year in a row, instead received the Winning Streak Award for 2021. They saved over 300,000 kWh over the past year!

For the first time in 2021, the Freezer Challenge is awarding multiple lab awards per research sector, recognizing small, medium, large, and biorepository labs:

  • Research Materials Management Lab in Discovery Technologies at Amgen Thousand Oaks, California
  • Bioscience Lab at Domainex, Saffron Walden, United Kingdom
  • Immunology Biology Lab, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, La Jolla, California
  • Endocrinology Laboratory at Children’s Hospital at Westmead, NSW, Australia
  • Hemostasis Reference Laboratory, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  • MTS Cryo Stores UK Limited, Nottingham, United Kingdom
  • Health Microbiology Laboratory, Research Center for Biology, Indonesian Institute of Sciences, Indonesia
  • The Laboratory of Cell Biology of the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland
  • Immunoassay Biomarker Core Laboratory, School of Medicine, University of Dundee, Australia
  • Van Der Pol Lab at the University of Alabama Birmingham
  • Lab + Teaching Lab (Bethan Grist) at Coventry University, United Kingdom
  • BioSpecimen Processing Facility at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

Join I2SL on September 27 to celebrate the 2021 winners at the Opening Ceremony of 2021 Annual Conference in Atlanta. And keep an eye out for an upcoming article in Nature magazine featuring the 2021 winners. Also from Nature, check out a free webcast to hear from green lab experts about their experiences and advice on how to reduce waste and emissions from the laboratory.