How can sustainable laboratories make an impact?
I was fortunate to attend the national I2SL conference in San Diego, California, recently and wanted to share my thoughts on how laboratories can conserve water—one of our most vital resources. It is both an exciting and challenging time for laboratory design. Now, more than ever we are called to bring innovative solutions to the environmental issues we all are facing.
California is immersed in one of the most extreme droughts in its history. Since the conference was located in the heart of this issue, many of the discussions and presentations revolved around how best to conserve water in the laboratory setting.
New devices that can help with water conservation
My colleague Gerald Williams and I discussed the benefits of utilizing the building’s chilled water system instead of potable tap water to reject heat from the laboratory experiments. Devices such as the eVap can achieve this and save millions of gallons of water a year.
Now, laboratory designers are consistently called to find innovative solutions to reduce water use while increasing energy savings. For example, I presented on Eckerd College’s James Center for Molecular Biology and Life Science in St. Petersburg, Florida, which features a revolutionary air-conditioning system that uses
treated, nonpotable wastewater from the nearby wastewater treatment facility to cool the building. The system pipes the water through the building’s heat exchanger to cool the building’s air conditioning system and then returns the warmed water to the plant, air-conditioning the building without using potable water. This innovative measure will also save millions of gallons of water every year. This and other methods helped earn the JCMLS LEED Platinum certification from GBCI/USGBC.
In both of these instances, great steps were taken by innovative planners and designers to think consciously about how we are using our water resources. We all need to take great measures to ensure we are using water in our lab environments efficiently and sustainably!