UiB Sustainability

Certified from My Green Lab

The Geomicrobiology Laboratory at UiB becomes the first public laboratory in Norway to receive the environmental certification from My Green Lab. The work on the certification has been done with support from the UiB Climate Fund.

Teamet på Geomikrobiologisk laboratorium med det synlige beviset på at de er sertifisert som My Green Lab. Bakerst f.v.: Anders Schouw, Steffen Jørgensen. Foran f.v.: Sven Le Moine-Bauer, Hannah Babel, Renee Hageman og Petra Hribovšek.
The team at the Geomicrobiology Laboratory with the My Green Lab certification proof. Back row from left to right: Anders Schouw, Steffen Jørgensen. Front row from left to right: Sven Le Moine-Bauer, Hannah Babel, Renee Hageman and Petra Hribovšek.
Susann Rüdiger

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"I am very happy that we are finally certified from My Green Lab. It's been a long process, but I'm very proud that we ended up with a score of 93 %. This gives us the green certification - the highest level possible", says Sven Le Moine-Bauer, manager of the Geomicrobiology Laboratory, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences.

The lab recently received the visible proof of the certification; the plaque from My Green Lab, which is an internationally recognised certification that helps laboratories around the world to take steps towards a greener daily routines.  As such, the Geomicrobiology laboratory is the first public laboratory in Norway to receive the certification.

High climate footprint in labs

"This process began because several of us who work in the lab are committed to the environment and concerned about the future of the planet. At the same time, we also know that laboratories generally have a very high carbon footprint. There were therefore an "internal conflict" between our values and our working methods. From there came the idea of applying for funding from the UiB Climate Fund so that we could go through the My Green Lab certification and apply measures that would ensure that we have a greener lab" says Le Moine-Bauer.

Even though the certification is now in place, this is not seen as an end, but only a step on the journey.

"A My Green Lab certification lasts for two years before the lab needs to be recertified. Even though we have received a good score, we have already identified several areas with potential for improvement, which we will work on in the future" he says.

Several good measures

"Many of the measures actually cost little or nothing; they relate to awareness and behaviour in the lab" says Le Moine-Bauer, citing better waste management routines, ordering more environmentally responsible products, and paying attention to water and electricity consumption as examples of what they have addressed. In addition, employees at the lab are using green travel to the greatest possible extent.

"We also have an increased focus on reusing everything possible - for example, by purchasing lab equipment made of glass that can be used many times, rather than disposable plastic equipment" he says.

Another important sub-project involved increasing the temperature in the lab's ultra-freezers from the standard temperature of minus 80 degrees to minus 70 degrees Celsius.

Now that we have raised the temperature from -80 to -70 degrees, we save between 20-30 per cent electricity per freezer

Sven Le Moine-Bauer

"It is of course important that this does not affect the samples stored in the freezer - and thus the research" says Le Moine-Bauer, adding that his lab has collaborated with a group of researchers at the Department of Biological Sciences (BIO) to investigate this very question. The findings from this project, led by Stefan Thiele, were recently published and the conclusion is that raising the temperature will have no negative impact on the samples. As a result, the ultra-freezers of the geomicrobiology lab are now set to -70 degrees.

These freezers are energy-intensive, and each used between 10-25 kWh per day, depending on the model, when the temperature was -80 degrees. For comparison, that's about the same as I use in my own flat. Now that we have raised the temperature from -80 to -70 degrees, we save between 20-30 per cent electricity per freezer" says Le Moine-Bauer.

He hopes the findings from the study will inspire many more researchers around the world to raise the temperature of their ultra-freezers to -70 degrees.

Le Moine-Bauer and his colleagues are also working on a new electronic control system that provides better control over the storage of samples.

In addition, the team, in collaboration with other labs, has started to build a digital platform that provides an overview of, and the opportunity to share, lab equipment between different labs. This is both a climate measure and an initiative that will create better collaboration between different labs in Bergen.

Encourages others to apply

"I am pleased that the Climate Fund at UiB supports this type of initiative. I am also grateful for the good support we have received from UiB's environmental coordinator, Helene Wiken, in this process" he says.

In the previous application round to the Climate Fund, two labs at the Michael Sars Centre also received support to start working on the My Green Lab certification. The new application deadline for the Climate Fund is 17 March, and Le Moine-Bauer encourages other employees at UiB to apply.

"In particular, I hope even more labs apply for supports for My Green Lab certification or other measures that can make the work in the lab more sustainable. Having more people working together will further strengthen the local network. Perhaps we will eventually have a large number of labs at UiB that are both greener and collaborate better - something that can really have an impact on the climate footprint of lab activities at the university" he says.

"Just get started"!

"What is your advice to other labs at UiB that want to become greener, or certified as My Green Lab?"

"Just get started! Get some motivated people together and get to work. There are big differences between labs, and some measures in one lab may not necessarily be possible in another. But I think everyone will find something they can do" he says.

"It requires a certain amount of work, and you should therefore set aside some time. But this is also a good team-building activity, and we've had a lot of fun along the way. For example one could set aside a couple of hours for the work on Fridays - and reward yourselves with a beer or something else afterwards" says Le Moine-Bauer, and invites any labs that are interested in the work or want tips on a possible certification process to get in touch.

Hope more people are inspired

"I would like to congratulate the members of the Geomicrobiology Laboratory for their certification from My Green Lab. This is an incredibly good initiative, which I hope more labs will be inspired and motivated by" says Helene Wiken, environmental coordinator at UiB.

She also encourages both staff and students at UiB to take the opportunity to apply for the Climate Fund by the application deadline of 17 March - and reminds us that the fund supports initiatives that either directly reduce UiB's climate footprint, or that create engagement among students and staff around climate and environmental issues.