Leadership in sustainability research, education and service is a hallmark of UGA’s 2020 Strategic Plan. The Green Lab Program promotes and supports world-class science by engaging researchers in best practices that enhance safety, conserve resources, and reduce waste. Details of the program are in development. To learn more about the origins of this program read the May 2015 Advisory Report of the UGA Green Lab Task Force. Please contact greenlab@uga.edu if you would like to become involved.

Laboratory buildings use two to three times more energy per square foot than typical office buildings due primarily to their high ventilation rates and refrigeration needs.
A conservative estimate of the total energy cost for the 860 UGA campus fume hoods is $720,000 per year. A typical fume hood removes about 825 cubic feet of conditioned air per minute. Keep your fume hood sash closed when it is not in use and at a proper level when it is in use.

Ultra-low Temperature (ULT) freezers use about as much electricity as a house, and all together the ULT freezers at UGA cost about $300,000 per year to run. You can reduce energy consumption by at least 20% if you increase the temperature from -80°C to -70°C. Researchers at CU Boulder and UC Berkeley have shown that many types of samples can be stored safely at -70ºC or warmer for other sample material. In 2012 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention increased 60 freezers from -80°C to -70°C. Additional research shows promise in a room-temperature storage of biological samples.

UGA employs approximately 2,000 chemical labs, which are responsible for almost 200,000 individual chemical containers and about 90,000 different chemicals on campus. As a result, UGA disposes of about 62,000 pounds of hazardous waste annually, at a cost upwards of $140,000 per year. Incorporate the MIT Green Chemistry Wizard into the design of your experiments. This database allows researchers to research less hazardous chemicals or processes for experiments.


Fume Hoods

Shut the Sash

Place the fume hood sash at its lowest point necessary for safety. Lowering and closing the sash on variable volume fume hoods can reduce energy consumption by as much as 60%.


Decommissioning inactive fume hoods can result in approximately $1,150 per year in energy savings. Contact the Facilities Management Division if your fume hood is no longer needed.


Switch to multi-variable fume hoods when it comes time to upgrade. Variable volume fume hoods can adjust to save energy when the sash is closed and have lower total exhaust volumes. This can result in savings of 60-70%. Learn more about variable volume hoods.

Close the Door

Keep the door to your lab closed. This allows ventilation units to perform their duties efficiently and safely in your laboratory.


Temperature Tune

Where possible, increase the temperature of your ULT freezers to match the needs of your sample storage.

Keep them Clear

Clearing out old or unneeded samples from refrigerators and freezers reduces the load on the compressor and create more space to consolidate samples. 


Defrost when the ice on the coils reaches 2 cm in thickness. It takes about an hour to completely defrost, but remember to place a plastic bag under the refrigerator or freezer to catch the water and pack the coils with towels.


A new efficient refrigerator uses about half the energy of its 10-year-old cousin. Replace old refrigerators and freezers with Energy Star models to conserve.


Clean Efficiently

Large amounts of water are consumed during the cleaning process. Typical faucets run at about 2-5 gallons per minute. Use rinse buckets to wash equipment and/or switch to low flow faucets to conserve water. Most importantly, never leave the taps running. Facilities Management can provide low flow aerators for faucets upon request (706) 542-9457.

Use Mechanical/Vacuum Pumps

Water aspirators consume vast quantities of water to perform a task mechanical/vacuum pumps can do using no water at all (and very little energy). Contact Facilities Management to install mechanical pumps in your lab when it comes time for an upgrade. (706) 542-9457.

Use Timers

Many pieces of equipment, such as autoclaves, can be turned off overnight, or set on a schedule to be used occasionally. Similarly Water Distillers or Reverse Osmosis units can be switched off over the weekend.

No More Once-Through Cooling

Single loop (or once-through) cooling systems use potable water once then send it down the drain. Closed loop cooling systems save energy and water. Using closed loop systems in two laboratories saved $60,000 during FY2008 at UGA. Contact the Facilities Management Division if you still have single loop cooling.



Use Less

Follow instructions carefully and be exact when measuring materials to reduce waste.

Go Micro

Microscale experiments are specifically designed to use less chemicals and generate less hazardous waste. Reduce experiment scale 100-fold to reduce use and increase safety.

Reduce Packaging

Use products that come in less packaging and/or recycled packaging. Several companies offer refillable pipette racks. Request reduced packaging when you place orders.

Teach Zero Waste

Design experiments to include steps for reusing material for other reactions, so that they breakdown into benign substances.


Reuse Cleaning Solvents

Acetone can safely be reused for the initial cleaning of dirty glassware. Use fresh solvent for the final rinse only. (solvents must be collected before they go down the drain).

Reuse Solvents

Many common buffers and solvents can be reused. For example, TBE buffer, used in gel electrophoresis, can be reused several times before discarding. Be sure to accurately label reused solvents to avoid contamination. Some solvents can be distilled and re-used for classroom experiments or as cleaning agents where ultra-pure solvent is not required.

Glass Pipette Tips

Pipette tips that are made of polypropylene are difficult to recycle and are usually thrown away after use. Switch to glass pipette tips that can be sterilized and reused.

Purchase Reusable Items

When possible buy glass or other reusable laboratory ware and avoid disposable items. Avoid the use of single use items for non-sterile activities when possible.


UGA does not recycle lab items at this time. Recycling lab items requires nuanced understanding to ensure compliance with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). If your lab generates large amounts of a certain item that is not currently recyclable or may be readily reusable, contact greenlab@uga.edu to find a market.