Fume hoods at UBC consume up to 10 per cent of campus energy due to the large volume of air that needs to be heated or cooled and moved through them. Help save energy and Shut the Sash.

What you can do 

Do you have a fume hood in your workspace? Competition or not, you can help your lab save energy by shutting the sash. 

  • Finished an experiment? Shut the Sash!
  • Taking a break? Shut the Sash!
  • Leaving for the day? Shut the Sash!

Did you know that an open fume hood uses as much energy as 3.5 homes!  

Well, it’s not the fume hood itself, it’s the air being sucked through it.

For health and safety reasons, labs use 100% outside air. That entire volume of air first has to be heated or cooled to make it a comfortable temperature before it is brought into the lab.  A lot of electricity is also required to run large supply and exhaust fans that move the air through the building and through the fume hoods.

saving energy by shutting the sash

Fume hoods in newer or recently renovated labs generally have variable air volume (VAV) fume hoods. For these hoods, vented air volume is controlled by the sash height. This means the lower the sash, the lower the amount of conditioned air exhausted. This means that shutting the sash reduces the total amount of conditioned air for the building and fans don’t have to work as hard to move that air – both of these result in big energy savings.    

Fume hood WISE practices

The sash is an important safety barrier between you and your work, so sashes should only be opened to set up or modify an experiment. When the sash is shut there is still air flow through the hood to remove fumes.

Never use a fume hood just for storing chemicals – they belong in a safety cabinet, which don’t use huge volumes of air.  

If your group is no longer using a fume hood, consider having it locked and hibernated so air no longer flows through it. Email green.labs@ubc.ca to find out how. 

Get involved with Shut the Sash

Shut the Sash 2021 is on! Running in Chemistry Buildings D & E, the 6-week competition will run from November 8 until December 19. See our FAQs below for details about the competition. 

Competition FAQs

What is Shut the Sash?

A six-week competition to save energy through one simple action—closing laboratory fume hoods.

How can I save the most? It’s simple:

  • Finished an experiment? Shut the Sash!
  • Taking a break? Shut the Sash!
  • Leaving for the day? Shut the Sash!
  • Last person out? Check that all sashes are closed.
  • Remind your lab mates to Shut the Sash!

How and what can we win?

There are two ways for your lab to win one of two $100 prizes to celebrate your success:

  1. Most Improved: The lab with the biggest improvement in sash best practices during the competition compared to baseline wins the prize.
  2. Lowest average sash height: To win this category your lab will have achieved the lowest average exhaust rates over the competition period.

Please adhere to safe lab protocols; teams engaging in unsafe practices to minimize fume hood usage will result in the team being disqualified from the competition.

Teams that tamper with other lab’s fume hoods (ex. open them without permission), or otherwise compromise their chance of winning, will also be disqualified.

How will you determine the winner?

Green Labs tracks fume hoods through the building management system (BMS) to establish baseline use patterns*. Specifically, we look at the exhaust rate for each fume hood which changes in proportion to the height of the sash. In other words, the lower the sash, the less air that is exhausted. We will continue to collect this data throughout the competition and compare it to baseline patterns.

Lab fume hood use summaries and ranking will be shared periodically for each lab*. Random spot checks may be conducted.

* Use patterns and tracking are available in a lot of our lab spaces through the BMS, not all spaces and fume hoods have measurable data points and systems. Additionally, due to HVAC mechanical system designs not all fume hood exhaust systems save energy when the sash is closed, it is still safer to keep the sash closed when not working in the hood. Closing the sash promotes safe and sustainable practices to carry with you to new lab environments.

What if my experiment has cords or tubes?

Some experiments involve power cords or tubing that prevents full closure of the sash. In most cases, if sashes are closed to the cord/tube, your participation will not be significantly impacted.

How does shutting the sash save energy?

Variable air volume (VAV) fume hoods are designed to maintain a constant face velocity across the sash opening.  Sash position is connected to the building’s HVAC system so that the fan speed and the volume of air are reduced when the sash is lowered.

VAV fume hoods are mostly found in newer labs at UBC that have been recently constructed or renovated.  While typically only labs with VAV fume hoods have been invited to participate in Shut the Sash, it’s best practice for all fume hood users to lower the sash when not in use and promote safe and sustainable lab practices.

Is it safe to shut the sash?

The sash is an important safety barrier between the fume hood interior and the laboratory, protecting the lab user.  Sashes should be opened only to set up or modify an experiment. At all other times, shutting the sash is safest.  When the sash is shut there is still some air flow through the hood to remove any fumes.

When should I shut the sash?

Shut the sash whenever you are not actively working in the fume hood.  Remind yourself to shut the sash every time you walk away from the hood.

What other fume hood practices can reduce my energy consumption?

First of all, never use a fume hood just for storing chemicals – they belong in a safety cabinet, which doesn’t use huge volumes of air.  If your fume hood has an occupancy switch, turn it off when not in use.  If your group is no longer using a specific fume hood, consider having it locked and de-commissioned so air no longer flows through it.

You can check out an interactive fume hood energy calculator here: http://fumehoodcalculator.lbl.gov/

Where can I learn about past Shut the Sash campaigns?

Click below to see Shut the Sash 2020 results!

LEARN MORE

Question or Comments?

Have questions or want to organize a competition in your department, contact green.labs@ubc.ca

Does your lab have standby switches on fume hoods? Let us know – there may be additional energy conservation measures we can support you with. 

Learn about other energy conservation opportunities in labs.