Labs use 10 times as much energy as other spaces on campus. Much of this is due to high ventilation rates and energy-intensive research equipment.

To reduce energy use, start by identifying what types of equipment are in your lab and follow the best practices outlined below. 

Shut the Sash

Laboratory fume hoods consume 10% of UBC’s total energy. Each fume hood uses as much energy as 3.5 households.

  • Shut the sash whenever you are not actively working in the fume hood
  • Only open fume hood sashes when setting up or modifying an experiment
  • Never use a fume hood for storing chemicals. Those belong in a safety cabinet, which doesn’t use huge volumes of air
  • Perform regular spot-checks to monitor and ensure that lab personnel implement proper fume hood sash closing behavior

Learn more about Shut the Sash

Chill Up

Cold storage at UBC is estimated to account for 6% of campus energy use. Each standard -80 °C freezer consumes as much energy as a single-family home! Here’s how you can tackle the high energy consumption of your fridges and freezers, promote optimal performance and increased lifespans.

  • Chill Up freezers from -80 °C to -70 °C and reduce energy consumption by up to 40%. Learn more here
  • Minimize door opening time
  • Consolidate and properly label samples, keep good sample inventories, and discard unnecessary samples
  • Defrost freezers and implement regular maintenance
  • Retire old Ultra-Low Temperature freezers (ULTs) and replace with more energy efficient models. Apply for the energy efficient ULT rebate 
  • Review our full Laboratory ULT Freezer Care Guide

Learn more about Chill Up

Optimizing Equipment Use

Lab equipment is very energy intensive.

Complete a lab equipment inventory to identify energy intensive equipment that can be turned off when not in use or set on timers. These include ovens and other climate controlled equipment (ex. incubators, heat blocks, thermocyclers, shakers, centrifuges, cold/hot rooms, furnaces, growth chambers), lasers, microscopes, biosafety cabinets and other large equipment.

  • Create schedule for shut down/power management
  • Share freezer space and equipment with other labs
  • Use distilled water only when needed to save both water and energy
  • Use outlet timers on equipment (get a free outlet timer here!)

Use Full Autoclave and Dishwasher Loads

Using full loads greatly enhances energy and water efficiency.

  • Use full loads for autoclaves and dishwashers
  • Add full load instructions to autoclave logs where appropriate

Switch off Lights and Computers

Switch off lights and computing equipment when not in use.

  • Activate power management settings on monitors and computers in your lab
  • Implement UBC Energy Policy recommendations: (i) Monitor and computer set to enter Sleep mode after 5-15 minutes;  (ii) Computer set to enter Standby or Hibernate mode after 30 minutes
  • Turn off computers, monitors, printers and other peripherals when not in use
  • Use a power bar or smart strip to make turning off equipment easy
  • For shared computing equipment, discuss with your team when equipment can be turned off and identify responsible persons
  • Turn off lights when not in use and use natural lighting when possible


Want to learn more?