Building a Green Lab Engagement Program

At research universities, laboratories are important environments for intellectual innovation and discovery. They also consume large amounts of energy, water, and material goods. For example, in 2010-2011, the University of Colorado-Boulder labs occupied 20% of campus square footage, but used 43% of campus energy. As a result, there are a growing number of universities with green lab initiatives to address the abundance of great conservation opportunities that exist in labs, not only on the building infrastructure, but also at the plug load and occupant level.

This workshop will describe the impact that green lab engagement programs can have on a research campus and describe two university green lab programs in particular: University of Colorado-Boulder and University of California-Davis. Actions on other campuses will be discussed as well.

In addition, the presenters will:

  • Make strategic suggestions for creating and growing a green labs programs
  • Connect participants with tools and resources available from the greater green labs community
  • Give participants the chance to work through and better understand the planning involved in launching a conservation project in labs, stakeholders to include, and ways to address and overcome challenges.


Kathy Ramirez-Aguilar, Ph.D., manages the CU Green Labs Program at the University of Colorado-Boulder, a program she has been building and creating since 2009. She has a doctorate in analytical chemistry from the University of Colorado-Boulder, a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from the College of William and Mary, and 15 years of laboratory research experience within the fields of biochemistry, analytical chemistry, and organic chemistry. Working as a research scientist, she saw a real need for a program to engage scientists in conservation. With the birth of her twin daughters and her hope for their future, grew her passion to promote change and create a program focused on resource conservation in labs which could serve as a model for other campuses to adopt.

After 20 years of ocean chemistry, soil, and permafrost research, the urgency of climate disruption and environmental degradation compelled Allen Doyle to leave the lab and work with scientists on conservation in their workplace. Mr. Doyle brings an occupant focus to laboratory energy conservation, as he is co-founder of LabRATS, developing a ten-module green laboratory program, a moderator of the Labs21 Energy-Efficient Laboratory Equipment Wiki, organizer of 100+ member national network, working to reduce plug load through cold storage management and the Freezer Challenge contest, and engaged in HVAC optimization through temperature relaxation and control banding. As sustainability manager, he interacts at all levels of campus and hopes that research laboratories and their stakeholders will reach ambitious standards of quality with dramatic improvements in resource consumption. He collaborates with laboratory trade groups, such as the National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Conference and Association of Public Health Laboratories, as well as such federal agencies as U.S. Department of Energy, National Institutes of Health, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and private sector laboratories.


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