Our Green Lab:
After starting working in a lab or in the field, it quickly becomes apparent that science can have big impacts on the things we're studying. The plastics and energy used in running analyses in a modern lab, for example, ultimately feed into processes we might be trying to study such as climate change. Minimizing our impacts on what we study seems like common-sense, so we endeavor to maintain a 'green' lab. In collaboration with our Office of Sustainability <http://sustainability.ucmerced.edu/> and Environmental Health & Safety <http://ehs.ucmerced.edu/>, so far we've earned a "gold" certification for our green lab.
In collaboration with Energize Colleges, EH&S, and UC Merced Sustainability teams, our goals for the coming year include:
– make durable signs about turning equipment off
– measure the power consumption of our equipment and be are aware of how to save energy
– if more than one light switch is in a panel, to mark the switches to indicate their function
– identify overhead fluorescent lamps that may be removed, and leave hall lights off if standby lights are adequate (coordinating with the building manager!)
– switch to LED or other efficient solid state light bulbs when a bulb needs replacing
– join the National Freezer Challenge (started at UC Davis)
– describe 4 components of the StoreSmart program to our lab
– vacuum the outside of refrigerator and freezer coils annually or biannually
– chill up our ultra-low temperature freezers (maybe we can get a >10°C adjustment)
– use recyclable gloves when possible
– remove our names from vendor catalog mailing lists
– purchase products with reduced packaging or recycled packaging
– look into vendor equipment buy-back programs
– consciously purchase products without PVC, BPA, PBTs, or phthalates (at least once per 6 months)
– use Green Seal cleaning products
– post information on alternative transportation
– post protocols/stickers with information about turning off common equipment
– conduct green lab training for all personnel including new staff in the group
We're also concerned about impacts in the field. Some of our research looking into the potential effects of people visiting marine lakes include documentation of species introduction and use of sunblocks. Many years ago, we established protocols to guard against direct anthropogenic disturbances, including sterilizing equipment between sampling, using sun clothing rather than sun block, and have designed tour-guide training workshops to help reduce the impact of tourism. Of course, there are also indirect effects that may be exacerbated by global change, which are harder to address on a local scale.
And here are a few papers on related issues, which we try to keep at the forefront of our minds while working in the field.
"The shoemaker's son ..." http://escholarship.org/uc/item/5bn4093f.