UBC’s research activities require a significant amount of energy, water, and materials. Review this guide to familiarize yourself with the programs and resources available to your lab. Then, follow the links provided to access more information about the topics relevant to your lab.
Get tips for purchasing green products to reduce landfill waste by using our Green Purchasing Guide and find out how many non-hazardous plastic containers can be recycled through our Lab Plastic Recycling Program.
Styrofoam Packaging and Soft Plastics
Styrofoam and soft plastic collection is available at select locations on campus. Visit UBC Building Operation's Styrofoam and Soft Plastics Recycling Pick-Up Program for more information and to enrol in the program.
Plants and Soil
Experimental plants and soil can be recycled in accordance with Safety & Risk Services requirements for collection and autoclaving, and can be reused as soil or fill for landscaping on campus. Contact Green Labs if you are interested in setting up plant and soil recycling for your lab.
Recycling for amber glass bottles is available in select buildings and changes on an ongoing basis. Check with you Building Operations Facility Manager to find out about the options available for your lab.
All other laboratory glass must be decontaminated and sent to the landfill for disposal following Safety & Risk Services Hazardous Waste Disposal Guide. Avoid unnecessary waste by participating in Solvent Dispensing from the Chemistry Stores to refill old containers of common solvents.
Refer to Safety & Risk Services Hazardous Waste Disposal Guide and incorporate as many of the best management practices for pollution prevention and waste minimization as possible into your lab routine.
Wonder what else goes where?
Search for items and learn about everything that can be recycled or composted on campus with the A-Z Recyclepedia.
Conserving Energy & Water
Labs use 10 times as much energy as other types of spaces on campus. Much of this is due to high ventilation rates and energy-intensive research equipment. To reduce the energy use in your lab, start by identifying what types of equipment are in your lab and follow the best practices outlined below.
Shut the Sash
Laboratory fume hoods use up to 10% of UBC’s total energy consumption, and each fume hood uses as much energy as 3.5 households. Start by shutting the sash whenever you are not actively working in the fume hood and participate in the Shut the Sash campaign to learn how to apply these energy-saving measures year-round.
Be Freezer Smart
Cold storage at UBC accounts for nearly 6% of campus energy use, and each -80⁰C freezer consumes as much energy as a single-family home. By chilling up and raising the set point temperature of your ULT freezer from -80°C to -70°C, you can increase its lifespan, save on equipment costs, and reduce its energy consumption by up to 42%. Learn more about this and other cold storage best practices in our Laboratory Freezer Care Guide.
Optimize Equipment Use
Complete a lab equipment inventory to identify energy intensive equipment (e.g., ovens, shakers, stirrers, heat plates, incubators) that can be turned off when not in use or set on timers. Save water and energy by filling autoclaves and dishwashers with full loads and using distilled water only when needed. Ensure that water systems are closed-loop rather than open-loop. Learn more with the Green Labs Water Conservation Guide.
Review our Energy Conservation Guide for more energy-saving tips.
Have an innovative idea to reduce the environmental impact of your research activities or lab? Funding is available annually through the Green Labs Fund. Visit the program page to review funding criteria and complete an application form.
ULT Freezer Rebate
This program is offered in support of researchers purchasing energy-efficient ultra-low temperature freezers (ULTs). Rebates are available on a rolling first-come, first-served basis.
Green Labs Newsletter
Get ideas to help you perform your research activities in a safe and sustainable manner. The newsletter shares current initiatives, upcoming opportunities, programming, events, and campaign results and celebrations as well as stories from pilot projects, case study results and other sustainable lab related information.
Interested in doing more?
Lab Sustainability Coordinators are researchers who work in labs on campus and inform their departments about sustainable approaches, procedures, and policies to minimize their environmental footprint. Become a Lab Sustainability Coordinator to gain access to training, networking events, and professional development opportunities. The program is open to all faculty, staff and students who work in laboratory-based settings.