By Karina Mazhukhina | Jul 28, 2015

A team from UW’s Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences (DEOHS) used a Green Seed Fund Grant to increase sustainable practices in the department's 20 labs.

To better assess barriers to sustainability, project facilitators encouraged DEOHS labs to participate in UW’s Green Labs Certification program in the spring of 2014. That year, labs averaged a score of 45 percent on their Green Labs application – while other campus labs who took the application averaged a score of 73 percent.

The team of researchers looked into how labs could improve their sustainable practices by talking with lab faculty, staff and students, as well as looking at purchasing records and chemical inventories, and conducting a lab trash sort. The team identified potential interventions related to reducing solid waste, conserving energy, and transitioning to safer and greener chemicals.

The following year, DEOHS labs submitted another application, this time earning an average score of 77 percent, and 18 labs met the threshold for certification (up from seven at the start of the project). The labs' highest increase was in the area of communication and education, where scores increased by 60 percent. Researchers hope that DEOHS labs will continue to be leaders in laboratory sustainability and serve as an example for other academic departments.

Green Seed Projects which were funded in the 2013-2014 year recently presented their research findings to the Environmental Stewardship Committee. This is part of a series of posts detailing the projects, including posters each team created on their findings. Click the poster image below for a full-size PDF.