Green Labs initiative to promote sustainable research 

UNMC and the med center campus in Omaha is a world-class research facility, with more than 740,000 square feet of dedicated research space, making it a world leader in health research. 

Lab spaces are resource intensive. In comparison with standard office spaces, laboratories use five- to 10-times more energy and five-times more water. Laboratory researchers generate around 15-times more plastic waste than the average individual, with labs being responsible for a total of 5.5 million tons of plastic waste per year. 

The med center’s Green Labs Program complements the med center’s institutional sustainability goals, as well as the University of Nebraska System’s 2023 sustainability plan.

The UNMC Office of Sustainability is collaborating with the UNMC Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research to drive optimization in energy and water consumption, while exploring innovative and practical ways to manage waste downstream and upstream by working with procurement to offer more sustainable options for researchers. 

The voluntary program is designed to support lab personnel who are interested in implementing measures and adopting behaviors that will reduce environmental impacts without sacrificing research quality, safety standards or lab productivity. 

Participants will be asked to fill out an initial survey to establish a baseline and a post-pilot questionnaire seeking feedback on the process and resources. If a UNMC lab is interested in joining the Green Labs program, consider signing up for the pilot. Click here to fill out the interest form for the lab, and the UNMC Office of Sustainability will be in contact to get the process started. 

Before submitting the form, consider discussing the program with lab personnel to approve participation and determine who will serve as the lab’s representative throughout the pilot. 

To kick start the Green Labs pilot program, the med center is participating in the International Freezer Challenge. This free competition offers guidance and resources to optimize a lab’s cold storage for better sample access and improved sample integrity, while reducing energy usage. 

Enrollment in the Green Labs program is not required to participate, but colleagues who are interested can fill out the same interest form to start receiving information about the challenge.  

For more information, including viewing the Green Labs program structure and program goals, visit the LiveGreen web pages for the Green Labs Program and the Freezer Challenge.

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