Shaping the NIH Green Labs Program to Address and Overcome Barriers in Participation

Bani Bhattacharya, National Institutes of Health
Minoo Shakoury-Elizeh, National Institutes of Health

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Addressing the limitations in participation at the very onset of program development is an effective strategy for encouraging widespread adoption and participation. Many environmental sustainability programs at the National Institutes of Health are voluntary programs that struggle with low participation rates. Assessing the rationale of laboratory staff and taking a deeper dive into the absence of participation led us to many invaluable lessons learned, including:

  1. Allowing incentives for participation.
  2. Authorizing interested individuals with the tools to lead an initiative.
  3. Advocating through the leads as role models and Champions of Change.
  4. Allocating adequate time and resources for participation.
  5. Achieving sustainability with the help of the senior leadership.

It was evident that some individuals may be motivated to greater levels of participation. Providing the interested individuals with resources to lead and acknowledging them for their exemplary and outstanding role by the senior leadership was inspiring. The presentation will share the five lessons learned in developing and implementing NIH environmental sustainability programs.

Learning Objectives

  • Assess and address barriers in participation in NIH environmental sustainability programs such as lack of incentives, rational/benefits of participating in a program, and the reason to continue participation in programs;
  • Discuss the lessons learned in shaping NIH environmental sustainability programs. Share the 5 A strategy: Allow, Authorize, Advocate, Allocate, and Achieve sustainability; and
  • Apply a few or all components to develop an environmental sustainability program to maximize participation. Finally, all these lessons that were learned were utilized in developing the Green Labs Program.


Ms. Bani Bhattacharya serves as the Environmental Management System Program Manager at NIH. She collaborates with Environmental Management Program Leads and Sustainability Goal Leads to implement and communicate environmental management initiatives. She is also the NIH Green Labs Program Manager. Prior to joining NIH, Bani worked as a toxicologist (contractor) at EPA, and as an Environmental and Occupational Health Specialist (contractor) at DoD. Bani holds a MS and MPH degrees.

Minoo is a Biologist/Lab Manager at the Genetics and Metabolism Section of LDB /NIDDK/NIH. She advocated for reduction in the usage of mutagenic reagents and promoted recycling whenever possible. For over 10 years, she has championed many environmental outreach and activities ranging from organizing the Green Labs Fair, writing articles within NIH newsletters, and presenting on the NIH Green Labs Program. She holds an MS in biotechnology.


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