Sustainability in laboratories has evolved from an idea for the future to actions in the present. Research facilities across the U.S. have adopted various measures to support a green laboratory design that maximizes efficiency, minimizes waste, and benefits the environment.
While sustainability has become a prevalent topic across all types of facilities, research labs present added incentive to go green. According to My Green Labs, research labs use 10 times more energy and four times more water per square foot as compared to office buildings. It’s also estimated that research labs throw away about 5.5 billion kilograms of plastic every year worldwide, enough to cover an area that’s over 20 times the size of Manhattan at an ankle-deep level.
Among one of the many systematic changes personnel can make to support a green laboratory design is collecting and analyzing temperature data from your lab’s freezers and refrigerators. Here’s how this proactive step fits into the larger picture of making your lab more sustainable.
Fuel Green Lab Initiatives with Cold Storage Temperature Data
Energy-intensive equipment has long been part of the resources needed to conduct research in labs. Today, we’ve seen a shift where there are more energy-efficient alternatives on the market such as those cold storage appliances with the ENERGY STAR label from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S Department of Energy. (ENERGY STAR ratings are currently available for both -80℃ and -20℃ freezers.)
While these energy-efficient systems provide the ideal foundation for storing research samples, all cold storage appliances are mechanical systems that are subject to performance issues and eventual failure. And if components of a freezer or refrigerator are working harder than needed to regulate their interior temperatures to keep samples safe, these systems can increase their energy consumption and fail years earlier than anticipated.
Having access to comprehensive temperature data from your cold storage appliances clues you into potential hazards before the conditions have time to escalate.
Consider the case where a freezer’s compressor coils are covered with a considerable amount of dust and debris, making it more difficult for the system to maintain a viable temperature for samples. When a freezer or refrigerator is working as it should, temperature data from the system will resemble a sawtooth pattern that reflects the compressor’s on/off cycle based on the system’s temperature. Any deviations from this pattern can be a warning sign that a compressor is working harder than it should be (and using more energy in the process). From these insights, you can take actionable maintenance measures to restore the energy efficiency of your freezer, save money, and have a more positive environmental impact.
What’s the Best Way to Collect Temperature Data?
Manually collecting temperature data from freezers and refrigerators can be a tedious task for lab personnel, especially when you’re dealing with a large number of cold storage appliances. Alongside these staff frustrations, a manual data logging approach is also more prone to errors, whether it’s a matter of missing a daily temperature check or logging a data number incorrectly.
With these elements in mind, the optimal way to collect temperature data is with a cloud-based, real-time temperature monitoring system — like the one offered by CORIS. Sensors installed in respective freezers and refrigerators collect temperature readings every two minutes and enable lab personnel to access real-time temperature data from any location.
Leveraging data that is permanently stored on the CORIS server, lab personnel can create and automate reports for the monitored systems in their lab and with the help of graphs, easily spot temperature patterns that may be indicative of a performance issue with a certain refrigerator or freezer. The faster staff can spot these problems, the faster they can get resolution and reduce energy consumption within their lab, and prevent the loss of samples.
Looking for more guidance on ways to support a green laboratory design? Download this ebook for advice on how to wisely maintain and use lab freezer systems to boost efficiencies, thwart failure, and keep valuable samples safe.