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SUSTAINABLE LABS NEWSLETTER

 
December 2016
University of Bristol
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It’s the last week before the Christmas break and Sustainable Labs would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. It’s certainly been a turbulent year with some uncertain times ahead, particularly for HE institutions, for science, and for the environment.

But it’s not all doom and gloom, 2016 saw some great things happen too for sustainability at Bristol. Our Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) team won a coveted Green Gown Award and our Sustainability Department won the Bristol Post and Bath Chronicle Environmental Public Sector Award for its whole-institution approach to sustainability. Read more here.

The Green Impact scheme won a global UNESCO environmental award and we’re incredibly proud to be the original driving force behind it. Let’s hope Green Impact Labs has just as much success!

Championing sustainability across our science community


Following another successful technical conference in September we gained some new members to the Sustainable Lab Network. Now 16 Sustainable Lab Leaders and 18 Sustainable Lab Members strong, we can begin to tackle our labs more thoroughly. Our first ‘Leaders’ meeting takes place in January, and we’ll work on creating lab inductions and exits that incorporate sustainability, Uni-wide consumable tenders such as pipette tips and gloves that both incorporate take-back or recycling schemes, new campaign ideas, and developing lab sustainability CPD training.

It's often the case that institutions that excel at sustainability have strong networks of green champions, some go even further and include sustainability within job descriptions. The larger our network the better we can improve our sustainability, community, collaboration and productivity. Sustainability is shifting higher up the wish list of prospective students, as shown in a new study conducted by NUS. They found that 87% of students want their universities to take sustainability seriously and 60% of US students’ parents think their children would be influenced by a university’s environmental credentials. We'd love to show our prospective science students that we’re proactive about the socio-environmental impact of our research.

We have a range of academic and technical Sustainable Lab Leaders in our Biomedical, Clinical, Chemistry and Geography Departments. We’re aiming to have at least one Leader to represent each School, if you’re interested you can sign up here

Campaign for behaviour change


We were joined by two interns throughout the summer who ran energy competitions in Synthetic Chemistry, UNPLUG and Shut the Sash. Both campaigns were geared around encouraging behaviour change, and the total energy saved, if continued throughout the year would be around £20k. It just goes to show what a difference we can make if we collectively become a bit more conscious in our day-to-day activities. In particular, 'switching off' and 'sash shutting' is so easy to do, and this is evidence that the savings are very real. It's better for the kit as well as it'll last longer! Remember that a running fume cupboard uses around the same amount of energy as keeping two ovens on at home all day.

Running campaigns and competitions is a great way to get the message out and encourage safe and sustainable behaviours. We’ll be running interdepartmental campaigns in the future but if you’re interested in running a local campaign please get in touch. 
Here’s
some examples from universities for inspiration.

University of Colorado, Boulder
The North American freezer challenge

Casting the lab sustainability net wide


A number of labs across the University are signed up to Green Impact Labs, our environmental framework for science research, and are working towards Green Lab Accreditation. In order to determine the level they've reached; Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum, there are annual assessments in late spring. Rather than only looking at labs that take part in the scheme, we thought we'd look at it more holistically. What level is the University at in terms of lab sustainability? How does it vary across different disciplines? This information should enable us to pinpoint areas for improvement and identify successes. 

What better way to do this than to let our students run the assessment programme? We’ve got a new member of the team, Tanya Heravian, who’s studying an MSc in Environmental Management and Policy. Tanya is the Green Impact Labs Supervisor and she is going to manage a team of student Green Impact Labs Project Assistants to carry out the assessments, as well as help teams gain their Green Impact Labs accreditation. 
Hopefully this will enable our students to learn a bit more about how our labs operate, embed sustainability into their behaviours, integrate them with our academic community, and it provides them with experience that can contribute towards the Bristol Plus Award.

We’re aiming to reach as many labs as possible, so please get in contact if you’re interested in volunteering or if you’d like to be first in line to get your lab assessed. 

Corporate social responsibility and procurement in labs: S-ProcLab


The Procurement team and Sustainable Labs have developed a strong coactive relationship over the past year; collaborating in our projects which are already aligned in motivation; we’re both trying to make the University more efficient, compliant and responsible. The third member of this partnership has been our technical staff, who’ve been integral in advising on and delivering projects. We’ve had successes with drying cabinets and sharps bins, and there’s a lot more projects in the pipeline. In January we will tender for a ‘Wireless Monitoring and Alarm System’ and ‘cold storage (fridges, ULTS, freezers)’, the latter of which we hope to collaborate with the HE sector by leading in a joint university tender across Southern England and London. There’s also projects for biosafety cabinets, ‘lab equipment and general asset sale’, gloves, pipette tips and ‘still-water units’ coming up in 2017. 

The University has come along leaps and bounds in recent years with its now progressive procurement activities and strategy which is evidenced by the recent Procurement Maturity Assessment (PMA). We’ve seen a huge 32.7% improvement from ‘Developing’ to ‘Superior’  in just 2 years. This has been achieved by investment in staff, assigning procurement categories to separate teams (such as labs), and drastically improving communication and collaboration. The foundation is being laid for a sustainable future which will enable us to: implement life cycle analysis (LCA) which takes into account both the financial and environmental cost of the product from cradle to grave; ensure our supply chains are ethical, and move towards the circular economy approach. Here’s an S-Lab article demonstrating how to take into account whole life costing (WLC) when purchasing lab equipment.

The Southern Universities Purchasing Consortium (SUPC) has just launched a new ‘lab equipment framework’ and ‘gases agreement’. What this means is that we have a new list of better prices for common lab equipment and services. We ask that you use the preferred list of suppliers whenever possible as not only do they offer improved prices, they're EU compliant, and we also have a moral obligation to offer fair competition in the market.

You’re going to see a greater merging of ProcLab (lab procurement group) and Sustainable Labs in 2017 with our joint venture 'S-ProcLab'. 

For any procurement queries please contact procurement-office@bristol.ac.uk

Equipment innovations

  • Ductless fume hoods are not a new concept but Erlab claim to have created a fume cupboard that is safe for a far greater range of chemicals than existing versions and it's comparable to a ducted fume cupboard in terms of protection. We know that fume cupboards are the main culprit for energy consumption in labs, and ducted hoods are generally far worse than ductless. ‘Replacing Fume Hood Ducts with Filters Offers Newfound Freedom’. 
  • Lab plastic is an inherently difficult (near impossible) waste product to recycle or reuse due to the risk of biological and chemical contamination.An estimated 1,814 tonnes of pipette tips are disposed of globally each year.
    • Green Lab Solutions are a start-up company from Duke University, NC, USA who are developing a ‘pipette tip cleaning and reuse system’ that washes and sanitises the tips.
    • IonField Systems have a pipette tip and microarray plate cleaning system that uses plasma to clean the surface of the plastic and break down any contaminants.

    • The Thermal Compaction Group that is based in nearby Cardiff have developed the Sterimelt which sterilises clinical wrap, which can then be recycled into a material which is used in construction materials….. Here’s a BBC TV article about it.

Whether these solutions are practical for universities, and whether they are affordable still needs to be determined, but it’s uplifting to know there’s progress!

Sustainable lab reads…...

Before you go…..


Please ensure that you whip around your lab on the last day before the Christmas break and switch off all the equipment that can be, including biosafety cabinets, fume cupboards and glove boxes. If you’re unsure, please ask your supervisor rather than leaving it.

Take a snap of your favourite technical staff over the festive period and post it to the Technicians make it happen’ campaign to be in with a chance of winning £100.


Remember you can donate your lab equipment and find used but working kit in RE-STORE.

Waste and resource management highlight
With the shut down of our own incinerator in July 2015 we have saved the University approx £100K per annum and continue our trend to reduce the amount of hazardous wastes incinerated at the University, by 24% against our baseline year of 2010/2011. 
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University of Bristol · Sustainability · 1-9 Old Park Hill · Bristol, Bristol BS8 2BB · United Kingdom

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