Giving University of Colorado Boulder Labs Money to Be More Energy-Efficient! How Is That Possible?!

Sarah Vander Meulen, University of Colorado Boulder Green Labs

The CU Green Labs Program has been collaborating with lab members to address energy and water conservation through the purchase of energy-efficient equipment. On a case by case basis, CU Facilities Management offers financial incentives through CU Green Labs, typically equivalent to five years of electrical or water savings. Incentives can be for replacement of existing equipment or new purchases for the labs. Incentives are determined by comparing the consumption of the efficient product to existing equipment or to what is typical on the market. Actions that labs are willing to take are also considered, such as turning off the equipment when not in use, which could mean buying the equipment with a timer so that is easier to do. These incentives help offset a larger upfront cost that will save electricity and money in the long run and help raise awareness of a need to think about energy conservation before purchasing equipment.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the process that allows CU Green Labs to obtain dollar incentives from Facilities Management to offer to labs for energy-efficient equipment purchases
  • Learn how CU Green Labs meters a variety of equipment to get energy consumption data
  • Learn about specific examples of incentives given to CU Boulder labs
  • How incentives raise awareness in labs and help promote energy conservation


Sarah Vander Meulen is currently a fourth year undergraduate student at the University of Colorado Boulder working towards her B.S. in Environmental Engineering. She has been working with Kathy Ramirez-Aguilar and the CU Green Labs program as a student assistant for three years on reducing energy consumption, solid waste production, and water use in the research labs on campus.


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