Green Lab Program

Green Lab Program

Cornell's Green Lab Certification assists lab users in reducing energy and material waste and improving overall lab sustainability by providing a checklist of potential actions and levels of achievement to help celebrate accomplishments as a team. Use the Checklist to get certified, and the Green Lab Guide to help adopt greener practices, benchmark current standards, or set goals for improvement. 

Green Lab Guide

Laboratories are one of the single biggest energy users on campus. By promoting greener practices with materials, purchasing, energy use, and behavior, labs can make a significant impact on the sustainable operations and culture of our campus.

If you find yourself stuck, or just need somewhere to start, take a look at these materials. Feel free to download and distribute them wherever you feel necessary. Additionally, supporting information can be found in the checklist overview at the bottom of this page that might assist you in achieving specific goals.

Resources for Your Lab

Guide Overview
Each accordion below houses a category of the GYL checklist. The bullets in each section outline tasks you will be expected to accomplish as a lab in order to achieve your certification. Links in each category provide supporting information and example solutions should they be needed.

  • Maintain an inventory of supplies and equipment that can be checked before placing orders.
  • Make use of vendor equipment buyback programs. Most major vendors provide a program that can be accessed through their website.
  • Check with STACS and CATS before buying new equipment, appliances or furniture. 
  • Avoid equipment that requires single-pass cooling from a central water supply.
  • Set all printers to double-sided printing as the default mode and use paper that is at least 30% post-consumer recycled content in them (can be purchased from the Cornell E-Shop).
  • Review proper waste management practices at a staff meeting to ensure all members of the lab are aware of the best practices available right now.
  • Maintain and review your chemical and sample inventories to prevent over-purchasing.
  • Adopt Green Chemistry Practices and use them throughout the lab.
  • Minimize the amount of chemicals and samples stored and use them on a first-in, first-out basis.
  • Limit the production from reverse osmosis distilled water systems to only what is needed for research.
  • Ensure everyone in the office knows who your Building Coordinator is and knows how to report leaks to said coordinator.
  • Encourage everyone to use reusable water bottles both in and out of the lab.
  • Turn off equipment, lights and computers when not in use. You can find signage to remind coworkers of this simple practice here. You can also reduce plug load by disconnecting unused or rarely used equipment.
  • Use energy smart power strips to reduce energy consumption. Power strips can be purchased from the Cornell E-Shop. Find the best ones by selecting the 'green' flag from the search filters when browsing options.
  • Use task lighting instead of overhead lighting whenever possible.
  • Maintain and care for freezers. Defrost them annually and clean the coils 2-3 times a year to improve efficiency and longevity. Consolidate materials inside refrigerators and freezers and set the temperatures at appropriate levels instead of the lowest possible temperature.
  • Use timers on equipment so they turn off automatically. Set computers to hibernate after 20 minutes and set biosafety cabinet UV lights to turn off after 1 hour.
  • Check the Cornell Building Dashboard during energy competitions to see how your building is performing!
  • Refer other labs to this program! It's the best way to proliferate Green Lab practices.
  • Have at least one person in the lab become a Green Ambassador for your building or unit.
  • Partner with other labs to propel each other. Share your solutions for completing checklist items with each other to optimize progress.
  • If you identify a practice you think would be beneficial on the checklist, feel free to send us an email..