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Sustainable 2nd Century

Sustainable 2nd Century

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Take Action: Green Your Lab

Graphic of Green Lab wordmark

The Green Lab Program at UC Davis provides achievable steps that you can take toward a greener workplace and celebrates accomplishments with recognition.

The program is a campus-wide, points-based system that evaluates sustainable actions implemented by your group. Everyone in the lab -- principal investigator, lab managers, post docs, graduate and undergraduate students – supports the effort by participating in conservation measures that will increase your efficiency and sustainability.

Your research group earns points as everyone adopts best practices in eight categories: energy, waste, water, electronics, green chemistry, transportation, field work, and community. Focusing on these eight categories helps your group work towards Bronze, Silver, or Gold certification.

We hope you will find the program to be fun and fulfilling.

Photo: Graph of energy use by building type

Energy intensity in three building types


Why become a Green Lab?

Did you know that laboratory buildings use approximately 3-5 times as much energy per square foot as an office or classroom, as shown in the figure? This is true for other resources as well: water, solid waste, chemicals, and electronics.

The UC system has committed to goals of Zero Waste by 2020 and Carbon Neutrality by 2025. In response to these goals, Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability created the Green Lab program. There are about 3,000 labs at UC Davis, so lab operations play an important role in campus sustainability performance.

By participating in Green Lab, a research group will:

Green lab practices ranging from freezer management to water conservation, pipette tip boxes and foam cooler recycling, chemical volume reduction and fume hood sash closures can save hundreds or thousands of dollars per year. Help your equipment last longer and create a safer lab environment. 

Photo of sustainability manager Allen Doyle with a Green Lab assistant

How to become a Green Lab

  1. Learn about the Green Lab program
  2. Commit to the program with leadership endorsement; inform and enroll your lab members
  3. Assess and act by finding areas to improve, and make and document sustainable changes
  4. Certify and celebrate—when done, you will receive a framed certificate and other recognition

Step 1: Learn

Step 2: Commit

Step 3: Assess and act

Step 4: Certify and celebrate


Who has participated and how long will it take?

Green Labs programs are underway in about a dozen campuses across the nation and in the UK, Denmark, and Belgium, to name some international partners.

Here at UC Davis, Dr. Bruce German’s group in the Robert Mondavi Food Science and Technology Department was the pioneer Green Lab group to complete the process. They found it to be a team-building experience and an intuitive process.

Other participating labs and green champions can be found on our Green Workplace alumni page. Dozens of labs across campus are now enrolled in the program (see map).

Green Lab is very comprehensive while also customizable to almost every lab. We designed it to complement and enhance your research. We recommend pursuing the program during one or two quarters, or about 3-4 months total, at a steady pace. Your group may go faster or slower if you wish.


Valuable resources

The Green Workplace Resources page has additional information on programs that dovetail with the Green Lab program.

Visit Green Labs Planning and My Green Lab for more information and resources on green lab practices: http://greenlabsplanning.org/ & http://www.mygreenlab.org/.  

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