Innovative Practices and Projects from Lab and Office Grants Show Measurable Results

In the summer of 2016, the Office of Sustainability Initiatives (OSI) announced the recipients of its inaugural Green Offices at Emory and Green Labs at Emory Incentives Fund programs, created to encourage students, faculty, and staff to contribute innovative ideas for achieving the goals outlined in Emory’s 2025 Sustainability Vision. The following results of the funded projects are impactful, measurable, and exciting examples of how Emory’s community members use creativity and problem-solving to enhance sustainable practices in Emory’s workspaces and laboratories.

Dr. Cassandra Quave is curator of the Emory University Herbarium and Assistant Professor of Dermatology and Human Health, whose Anthropology lab is Bronze level certified under the Green Labs at Emory program. In order to become more organized and reduce energy consumption, Dr. Quave utilized a Green Labs Incentives Fund grant to establish a freezer management plan for one of the lab’s freezers. The energy consumption of the freezer before plan implementation was 59 Watts per hour. After defrosting and cleaning the freezer, labeling and organizing samples, the freezer’s energy consumption reduced to 53 Watts per hour, an overall energy use reduction of 10%. Dr. Quave replicated this strategy with other freezers in the lab and helped improve energy consumption as well as improve efficiency of work in the lab.

Other Green Offices and Green Labs Incentives Fund project results include:

Motion Sensors in Miller-Ward Alumni House

Alison Agnew, Emory Alumni Association
Motion sensor lights were installed in public restrooms in the Miller-Ward Alumni House to enhance guest safety and reduce energy consumption.

Recycling Bins in Cox Hall Computing Center

Dawn Francis-Chewning, Student Digital Life
More recycling bins were installed in the Cox Computing Center to divert compostable and recyclable materials from landfill bins. This project’s success contributed to Cox Hall winning the Emory Building Recycling Competition in November 2016.

Reducing Paper and Electricity Waste in Math & Science 5th Floor Labs

Dr. Berry Brosi, Environmental Sciences
To reduce paper waste, the Brosi Lab switched to paperless data collection using clickers and iPads. Now, instead of keeping five-inch binders full of paper and using lots of scrap paper, zero scrap paper is used and recording paper use is reduced by more than 1,000 pieces per year. To reduce energy consumption, the lab plugged lab bench equipment in to power strips that are switched off nightly, and established a freezer defrost schedule and sample inventory.

Piloting Reusable Petri Dishes

Dr. Levi Morran, Biology
The Morran lab piloted reusable glass and plastic petri dishes, measuring how well the two options stand up to usage over the course of a year. Annually, the Morran lab uses about 11,000 one-time use, plastic petri dishes, and the pilot may reveal a reusable alternative for their lab and others across campus. Reusable petri dishes will ultimately reduce cost and dramatically reduce waste from the lab.

Energy and Water Consumption Reduction

Dr. Simon Blakey, Chemistry
The Blakey lab team is reducing water consumption by replacing water aspirators used for vacuum filtration with a portable system of vacuum pumps and solvent traps. Additionally, the lab is reducing energy usage by utilizing lab equipment power strips that are switched off every night, and regularly defrosting freezers.

Recycling Disposable Nitrile Gloves to Reduce Landfill Waste

Dr. Latonia Taliaferro-Smith, Biology
To reduce landfill waste, Dr. Taliaferro-Smith began recycling non-hazardous and non-infectious Nitrile gloves in all Oxford biology teaching labs, research labs, and prep rooms through the Kimberly Clark RightCycle program.

Rechargeable Batteries

Dr. Christine Moe, Global Health
The Moe Research Group is reducing chemical and physical waste with a rechargeable battery system. The rechargeable batteries are deployed in portable equipment that students bring overseas during their summer practicums.

Paper Waste Reduction through Chemical-Resistant Trays

Dr. Sean Mo, Chemistry
Dr. Mo implemented reusable chemical-resistant trays to catch chemical drips and spills on each bench in Oxford College Chemistry teaching studios. Previously, the Chemistry benches were lined with single-use absorbent pads. The reusable trays are complimented with a step-by-step guide to proper waste disposal for each experiment for staff, Teaching Assistants, and students.

Water Reduction in Teaching Labs

Brenda Harmon, Chemistry
By replacing condensers using single-pass water for distillation procedures with small pumps that recirculate water for condensers, the Oxford College Chemistry teaching labs save approximately 1,500 gallons of water each semester.

Beauty Sustained by Consumables

Dr. Daniel Brat, Pathology
Members of the Brat Pathology Lab in Winship Cancer Institute used recyclable research materials to create beautiful fine art. The vision for the project was to “creatively design functional art for display in the research areas for inspiration and pure enjoyment. These artistic renderings include the power of plastics and repurposed ink for an alternative scientific view. It is our hope that it encourages all labs to recycle when and where possible.” These art pieces have been showcased at campus events and were permanently hung in Winship Cancer Institute in May 2017.

Recycling and Compost

Dr. Douglas Taylor, Division of Animal Resources (DAR)
Members of the Taylor lab spearheaded the installation of recycling and compost bins in eight DAR noninfectious animal care rooms in Whitehead Biomedical Research Building, as a pilot for future recycling in all Emory noninfectious animal care spaces. The lab also facilitated recycling in office spaces and break rooms, and trained DAR staff in the Whitehead spaces. Since completing the pilot recycling and composting program, DAR has expanded the program to all of the animal housing rooms and staff break rooms in the Whitehead animal facility.

Visit the Office of Sustainability Initiatives website for more information about the Green Offices at Emory and Green Labs at Emory programs, and to view the 2016-2017 Incentives Fund project final reports.

by Laura Diamond-Williams, Intern
Office of Sustainability Initiatives
May 2, 2017

One thought on “Innovative Practices and Projects from Lab and Office Grants Show Measurable Results

  1. Inspiring stuff! As a healthcare employee sometimes it is overwhelming the amount of waste is produced in order to keep our patients safe, by the MINUTE. Its so nice to know that there are resources available to me to reduce waste and that there is other staff joined in the fight

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *