Lab Manager | Run Your Lab Like a Business

All Things Green

Every April for the past five years, Lab Manager’s cover story has highlighted developments in green laboratory practices.

by Pamela Ahlberg
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In that tradition, this month we look at a host of new university-driven sustainability programs that should inspire labs of all stripes. From something as simple and inexpensive as installing timers on equipment that needs to be turned off at night but up-and-running in the morning, to sash monitoring, to sharing lab equipment, commitment to the efficient use of resources does not appear to be waning. “We often look for opportunities that are win-win, both for science and for conservation,” says Kathryn Ramirez-Aguilar, PhD, green labs program manager at CU-Boulder. In addition, equipment sharing can demonstrate compliance with federal procurement regulations in the recent Uniform Guidance document, which requires sharing of equipment and avoiding duplicative or unnecessary purchases. For more on the topic of procurement, turn to “The Procurement Process” on page 18.

Other articles that align with April’s green theme include “Virtual Reality” (page 32), which discusses a 3-D visualization software that allows lab designers to illustrate the elements of a design project in advance, avoiding the waste of having to reinstall equipment and furnishings after the job is completed. New features that offset the energy required for rapid temperature ramping in laboratory baths and chillers (page 68) and advances that lead to more efficient ways to recapture solvent in nitrogen evaporators (page 70) are discussed in respective product focus articles.

Also a fit for the April issue is the topic of millennials, that ideological and community-centric cohort most likely to be leading your lab’s sustainability efforts. “In just five short years, millennials will represent 44 percent of the U.S. workforce. Five years after that, that number will be 75 percent!,” reminds Mark Lanfear in his “Science Matters” column (page 30). In addition to their communication and teamwork skills, their tolerance of diversity in the workplace, and their easy accommodation of change, it is their comfort with technology that makes them so perfectly suited to today’s lab. (“Millennials in the Lab,” page 24).

As we learn in this month’s Ask the Expert article on trends in lab automation (page 56), that comfort with technology will only serve them better as changes in informatics and communication rely more heavily on portable notepads and software to control instruments inside and outside the lab. Next month’s cover story on laboratory gadgets and apps will explore this in greater detail.

In the meantime, here’s to Spring and all things green.

Pamela Ahlberg