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Check Your Freezer for Carbon Emission Reductions

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

At a time when it is imperative to make climate-conscious decisions, implementing energy-efficient lab operations takes on even more importance. With laboratories’ outsized contribution to carbon emissions, every piece of energy-using equipment in a lab needs to be operating efficiently. When it comes to lab equipment, freezers are often the second largest energy user after fume hoods, so ensuring laboratories have efficient cold storage could significantly reduce labs’ energy consumption and carbon footprint.

To encourage more energy-efficient cold storage, the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL) is happy to join My Green Lab again this year to promote the International Freezer Challenge. This challenge is designed to help labs achieve greater energy efficiency and reduce their carbon footprint while pursuing sample integrity and saving money.

In 2022 alone, International Freezer Challenge participants saved a combined 9.5 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year. Since My Green Lab and I2SL launched the challenge in 2017, participants have saved a cumulative 24 million kWh of energy and reduced carbon emissions by 16,796 metric tons!

How to Take—and Win—the Freezer Challenge

Whether you are a campus green labs coordinator or a consultant to a research institution, you can get involved in this fun and important effort. Those who registerfor the 2023 Freezer Challenge will receive access to an online scorecard used to track labs’ progress. Participants can earn points by taking action to implement cold storage best practices within the Challenge focus areas, which include good management practices; temperature tuning; unit retirements, upgrades, and unplugs; and taking freezer and sample inventories.

This year, organizations can also opt to register a site coordinator for internal purposes or to provide additional motivation for competing labs. Site coordinators can be campus or lab sustainability managers and can spread the challenge to their whole campus. The Freezer Challenge is a great way to engage students and faculty while also working towards campus sustainability initiatives.

For those new to the challenge or for those that need a refresher, check out the How to Win the Freezer Challenge guide for tips on how to freeze the competition, including:

  • Understand how the challenge works: Learn the who, what, where, when, and why of this competition to ensure your participation is worthwhile.

  • Indicate your team’s motivation: Successful Freezer Challenge participants often identify a key reason for their team’s interest, which helps to brings them together around their sustainability goal.

  • Identify where you are in your cold storage process: Since each laboratory will have a unique roadmap to success, teams should spend time understanding where their organization stands regarding cold storage management and which actions are most beneficial towards their goals.

  • Submit an accurate scoresheet: Coordinate, communicate, and make time to accomplish what you set out to do to receive recognition for your efforts!

Any energy-saving actions taken from August 1, 2022, until the July 1, 2023, deadline can be included in a submission, and winners within each lab category will receive complimentary registration for I2SL’s 2023 Annual Conference. To hear the 2022 Freezer Challenge Winners reflect and share their experiences about the competition, check out this feature article published in Lab Manager magazine.

Encourage your colleagues—or clients—to sign up for the 2023 Freezer Challenge today! If you have any questions, please visit the visit the Frequently Asked Questions page or reach out to My Green Lab or I2SL.

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