Saving Funding, Resources, and Researcher Time While Utilizing Lab Space Efficiently: The Many Benefits of Shared Lab Equipment in Collaborative Spaces

Kathryn Ramirez-Aguilar, University of Colorado Boulder

Collaborative spaces with managed, shared laboratory equipment have a multitude of benefits that extend far beyond just energy conservation. It saves research dollars by avoiding equipment duplication, facilitates research access to equipment, and saves researcher time by placing the responsibility of maintaining equipment and training users on a manager. It also fosters collaboration, attracts talent by showcasing the equipment resources available to prospective scientists, and benefits compliance with Code of Federal Regulations (CFRs). Core equipment facilities often provide this service on university campuses for the super expensive equipment, but there is much more opportunity to formalize sharing within laboratory departments for less expensive equipment as well. This presentation will focus on some great examples of sharing occurring at the University of Colorado Boulder for less expensive equipment. One of the most important outcomes being realized is effective, efficient use of lab space. Considering that laboratories are one of the most expensive university spaces to build and maintain, efficient use of lab space is of utmost importance for avoiding unnecessary overhead costs and keeping federal dollars focused on the direct costs of research as much as possible.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn about inefficiencies (especially lab space utilization) that can result when labs work under an 'ownership' mentality for equipment resources in individual labs.
  • Learn about the many advantages of managed, shared lab equipment in shared spaces for benefiting both scientific research and resource conservation.
  • Learn about successful examples of equipment sharing occurring at CU-Boulder, for more than just expensive lab equipment, which can serve as models for equipment sharing elsewhere.
  • Gain an understanding of why there is a need to connect efficiency to federal funding of research on university campuses.


Kathy manages the CU Green Labs Program at the Univ. of Colorado-Boulder. She has 15 years of lab research experience where she recognized the need for a program to engage scientists in conservation. Through participation in I2SL, Green Labs Planning Group, & the DOE Better Buildings Alliance, she regularly collaborates & shares ideas with colleagues at universities & federal agencies. She chairs the I2SL University Alliance Group presently focused on connecting sustainability to lab finances.


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