A Toolkit for Making the Research Enterprise More Sustainable and More Equitable

Christina Greever, My Green Lab
Star Scott, University of Georgia

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True sustainability takes place at the intersection of processes and practices which seek to balance environmental, economic, and social implications. In fact, sustainability is often defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Thus, at the heart of sustainability are people, and yet historically our community has focused on the environmental and economic impacts of designing, building, operating, and using sustainable laboratory buildings. Our community also discusses the scientists who work in our laboratory buildings, including how to make their lives safer and more comfortable, so they are better able to do research. But what about people who never set foot in our laboratory buildings? They are impacted by our industry as well.

This presentation will build on one given at the 2019 I2SL Annual Conference, which demonstrated links between the research enterprise and the effects it has on outside communities. You need not have attended last year's presentation to gain from attending this one. This year, we will revisit social justice and equity and how they relate to both sustainability and the research enterprise. We will also present a toolkit custom-designed for the I2SL community, which will be useful to designers, builders, engineers, green labs facilitators, and researchers alike. We will discuss ideas of how to bring greater equity to laboratory building practices, ideas for scientists, and how sustainability centers and green labs programs can facilitate a transition where considerations of communities beyond our own and greater equity become integral parts of the research enterprise.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand how social justice and equity are critical components of sustainability;
  • Understand how social justice is connected to the building and operation of laboratory facilities and the research enterprise, as a whole;
  • Explore some examples of how the design, building, operation, and use of laboratory buildings impacts outside communities. Consider the framework "who benefits from this, and who bears the burden?"; and
  • Identify, through use of our toolkit, ideas you can take back to your organization to make your contribution to laboratory sustainability more equitable (design, planning, building, operations, end users, etc.).


Christina is Operations Manager for the laboratory sustainability nonprofit My Green Lab, and has been doing social media for the organization since January 2019. She was formerly the Program Assistant and Outreach Coordinator for CU Green Labs at the University of Colorado Boulder. She holds a bachelor's degree in biology from Lewis & Clark College, and currently resides in Salt Lake City.

Prior to starting the Green Labs program at the University of Georgia in 2016, Star spent nearly a decade as a Research Professional in conservation-driven research, as well as several years as a Chemical Safety Specialist with the Office of Research Safety. Star's background is in wildlife biology and ecology and she is the CSHEMA representative for The Higher Education Associations Sustainability Consortium (HEASC) and the co-vice president for the Georgia Chapter of I2SL.


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