Large Untapped Potential With Green Labs Programs = Large Untapped Resource Efficiency and Cost Avoidance for Research Institutions and Funders

Kathryn Ramirez-Aguilar, University of Colorado-Boulder

In the face of climate change, the large environmental footprint of science, and limited budgets for research investment, we need to be thinking bigger about green lab programs and the large achievements in efficiency that these programs can bring to the research enterprise. After a decade of building momentum, the significant positive impact that the green labs field can bring to research is being realized. World problems such as climate change are calling on solutions from science, but the contribution of research itself to environmental degradation cannot be ignored. The benefits for efficiency to maximize the impact of research investments also cannot be ignored, which will enable more research to be funded within existing budgets. Research institutions just starting green lab programs do not need to wait 10 years to catch-up.

The green labs community is collaborative, sharing, and willing to help. But there is a need for institutions to hire individuals with the proper expertise, adequately invest in programs for long-term success, and support and empower these programs to be more than just bottom-up approaches. Funding agencies and research sponsors also need to be part of the solution by connecting efficiency and sustainability expectations to their processes for funding science.

This presentation will describe the large efficiencies in resources use and research funding that could be achieved by thinking big and elevating green labs programs to higher levels.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn about the bigger picture items that green labs programs can propose to their institutions to justify expanding support;
  • Learn why research institutions would benefit from elevating green labs programs to higher levels with more top-down support;
  • Learn why research funders and taxpayers would benefit from shifts at research institutions achieving significantly greater efficiency in research; and
  • Learn what green labs programs, researchers, and institutions can do to encourage funding agencies to connect efficiency and sustainability to the funding of science.


Kathy Ramirez-Aguilar has created and managed the Green Labs Program at CU Boulder for more than a decade. She is an I2SL board member, chair of the I2SL Univ. Alliance Group (UAG), and through the I2SL UAG leads the Bringing Efficiency to Research Grants effort working to connect efficiency expectations and sustainability to research funding.


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