U-M’s office of Campus Sustainability (OCS) has recognized the UMBS analytical chemistry lab as a Gold-level Sustainability Laboratory. Kenneth Keeler, OCS Senior Sustainability Representative, visited the lab this week as the final step in its evaluation.
“The average laboratory consumes 4 to 10 times more energy and resources as compared to a classroom or an office environment,” says the Sustainable Lab Recognition Program’s website. Moreover, labs often generate hazardous waste and use high volumes of water.
The UMBS Gold rating recognizes both new and long-standing lab practices. “We get some bonus points for keeping old equipment alive,” says lab manager Tim Veverica, “and for using relatively benign, alternative chemistries where we could otherwise be using a lot of solvents, metals and acids.” Even the station’s recycling program worked in the lab’s favor, as did the practice of unplugging equipment that is not in use.
The station’s new ion chromatograph serves as an example of how attention to waste can affect lab sustainability. In April, Veverica upgraded this piece of equipment. Unlike its predecessor, the new chromatograph uses far less water and does not generate toxic chemical waste during operation. Choices like this add up to a more sustainable overall operation.
Not content to revel in the new rating, Veverica is already eyeing the top level Platinum certification. He thinks an upcoming move into space with more energy efficient equipment might put that rating within reach.