Organized by the nonprofit My Green Lab and the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL), the Freezer Challenge attracts thousands of scientists internationally with a quest to boost the energy efficiency of their lab’s cold storage. Last year, more than 300 laboratories took part in the competition.
The Freezer Challenge kicked off in 2017.
According to Cambridge, Massachusetts–based Elemental Machines’ most recent sustainability report, an average lab consumes between five and ten times more energy per square foot than a typical office space. Cold storage tends to be one of the central energy consumers in such environments. A single ultra-cold temperature freezer can use as much energy as a typical household.
Participants in the challenge can earn points by fully defrosting freezers, cleaning filters, coils and intakes. They can also improve their scores by removing frost from cabinet and door seals, updating inventories and relocating samples to warmer temperatures whenever possible.
“It can be done! Studies have shown that DNA samples stored between -20°C and -80°C were stable for over 24 months (and beyond). Try it out on a well plate or set of 25 tubes for credit in the Freezer Challenge!” said Constantin Fahom, Elemental Machines Business Development Executive in Europe, in one of the company’s weekly emails to the lab community. The quote was also featured in a press release.
“The global biotechnology and pharma industry has a carbon footprint larger than the semiconductor industry, the forestry, and paper industry, and equal to nearly half the annual emissions of the UK,” explained Elizabeth McGarry, a spokesperson at Elemental Machines, in a news release. “Sustainable LabOps (laboratory operations) go beyond power consumption, like heating and cooling, because savings not only help shrink a lab’s carbon footprint but could also help bring about the next scientific breakthrough.”
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