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Managing Energy in Your Lab

Five steps from the Federal Energy Management Program to help labs become more energy efficient.

by Lab Manager
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energy efficient labs

According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, U.S. laboratories use much more water and energy per square foot than other facilities and office buildings. That higher energy use is due to labs’ stricter health safety requirements and energy-intensive activities. The Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) encourages labs to become more energy efficient by improving the efficiency of the entire facility, rather than just making specific lab components more efficient.

FEMP’s Climate Neutral Research Campuses initiative provides a five-step process to help labs become more efficient:

  1. Determine Baseline Energy Consumption—To get started, labs figure out their current energy consumption and the greenhouse emissions that result. They can then break down those emissions by sector.
  2. Analyze Technology Options—Labs evaluate the technology available that would fit into a climate action plan. These technologies could fall under people and policy, buildings, transportation, energy sources, and offsets and certificates.
  3. Prepare a Plan and Set Priorities—In this stage, labs pick their specific greenhouse gas reduction goals, set dates for achievement, and figure out their financial constraints and opportunities. The resulting plan can be either goal- or finance-driven.
  4. Implement the Climate Action Plan—This step of the initiative involves asking two key questions. How will the lab pay for the climate action plan? And, who will manage and oversee the plan’s implementation? A portfolio approach in which a wide variety of options are considered, is recommended for this stage.
  5. Measure & Evaluate Progress— The American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education have put together a reporting system for colleges and universities that signed the ACUPCC commitment. Labs can use this system for reporting their progress in achieving their energy efficiency goals.

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