Cutting your carbon footprint

Many of these tips are relevant for all buildings but some specifically refer to facilities available in the SGDB – CVR-specific information is coming soon.

In the lab:

Shut your fume hood sash

‌Fume hoods are one of the most energy intensive pieces of equipment in the lab. On average, they use as much energy as 3.5 houses every day. We can save the university hundreds of thousands of pounds every year and also cut energy usage by closing the hoods when not in use.

Ventilated lab areas

In lab areas which are ventilated (e.g. microscope rooms) make sure to close the doors behind you when you enter or exit.

Water waste

  • Every drop counts! Ensure taps are turned off when not in use and report leaks right away.
  • When rinsing, use a low flow of water to reduce the amount wasted – only use purified water if necessary as this takes extra energy to produce.
  • If you need to use hot water, for example for defrosting samples, consider filling the sink (or a smaller container) reducing water used and energy used to heat the water.

Freezer care


Freezers are a huge way that we can improve our carbon footprint. Tips for efficient use of fridges and freezers include:


  • Ensure the door is shut as much as possible – don’t stand around with an open fridge or freezer while you search for your samples
  • Ensure your freezer can breathe – check filters are clear, ensure enough space on all sides of your freezer and remove clutter from beside or on top of units.
  • If you notice a damaged seal, arrange for it to be fixed right away.Keep your units free of clutter.
  • If your samples will be safe, ultra low temperature freezers should be set to -70oc instead of -80oC
  • Clear out and defrost freezers at least once per year – this prevents ice build up and clears space for new items!
  • Replace any freezers which are older than 10 years – the university have a fund to meet extra costs for buying high eco rating fridges and freezers


Switch off centrifuges at the end of the day and leave the lids open. This is especially important for centrifuges that are set to specific temperatures.

Water baths

Water baths only take 10 minutes to heat up to the correct temperature. For health and safety reasons they cannot be left on unattended out of hours. Please ensure that these are switched off at the end of the day.

Other communal equipment

Communal pieces of equipment should be switched off at the wall when not in use. Equipment still draws power even when not actively in use.



 Need a labcoat?

If you have a new start that needs a labcoat, there are a supply of second hand labcoats under the window in the small washroom on Level 1 of the SGDB – check whether you can reuse one of these before you buy a new lab coat

Last one in?

The SGDB main lab lights work on a timer so that they switch off out of hours. Unfortunately, this system is not very reliable. We would therefore ask that users who are in late at night switch off the main lab lights when they are done (unless other users are still on the floor).



The institute has recently provided recycling bins in the labs and corridors – please try to use them often and correctly. Please ensure:


  • Items are not contaminated (by hazardous materials)
  • Items are empty and dry and their lids are removed
  • Labels are defaced or removed (you can also write waste over old labels)
  • Some items cannot be recycled and should go in designated waste bins:Biologically, chemically or radioactively contaminated items
  • SharpsPaper towels and blue roll (these are already recycled and have too low a fibre count to undergo further processing)

If you are unsure about whether an item can be recycled, contact an eco group member for further information.

In and about the office:

Computers and monitors

‌If you NEED to keep active work on your computer we would recommend using the hibernate function instead of standby as the computer will save all your active work onto the hard drive but will not use any power when switched off.

Turn your monitor off at the end of the day



We live in a digital world – try viewing papers on your computer or tablet instead of printing them off.

Electronic lab notebook

Similarly, get on board with a digital lab-book – OneNote has many features, which make it ideal to use as a lab-book, and it is already available to you through your university account. Gavin has put on a seminar about how you can begin using a OneNote labbook:

Slides coming soon...



Remember to use the recycling bins provided elsewhere in the building and the University grounds as well! These are much more straightforward than the lab recycling bins. See our triple waste signage poster for what you can and can’t put in each type of bin.

Buying lunch

One of the main ways in which you can reduce your carbon footprint is by preparing your own lunch and transporting it in re-usable containers (e.g - external).

Cutting out cheese and meat as ingredients also goes a long way to reducing carbon footprint.


Change your commute

This graph taken from Government data shows how you can cut your carbon emissions by using public transport or changing to commuting by bike or foot. If that’s not possible try carpooling! The graph displays the carbon equivalent it takes to transport 1 person 1 kilometre.


Bring your own water bottle/cutlery

Single use plastic bottles and cutlery have a huge carbon footprint. Instead of buying bottles of water or juice, bring your own reusable water bottle. If you fancy something different, go for something in a can. Similarly, have a work set of cutlery so you are never caught short.

Coffee cups

  • Single use coffee cups are not recyclable and 3 billion go to landfill every year in the UK – not only does buying a reusable coffee cup save the environment, it can save you money too with many vendors offering discounts when you bring your own cup.
  • While we are trying to eradicate single-use cups from being used in our institute events, best practice is to bring your own reusable cup to all events.