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University labs to go green by stepping up energy savings


Toronto, ON – The University of Toronto’s Sustainability Office, the department of chemistry and the graduate students’ Chem Club say they are set to launch a campaign to drastically reduce the energy consumption of the Lash Miller Chemical Laboratories.

Research laboratories have been shown to typically use four to five times the energy of commercial offices, and a major component of this consumption is the operation of fume hoods.

Fume hoods are large devices that protect workers from air-borne hazards by exhausting large volumes of air at a rapid rate. Few researchers realize how energy intensive these devices can be. A single hood can use over three times the energy of an average home.

However, in many cases large energy savings are possible by simply changing user behaviour. The University of Toronto’s “Just Shut It!” campaign asks laboratory users to close the sash to their fume hoods when they are not being used. By making this small action a habit, the university estimates it can save over $175,000 in energy costs per year, and reduce greenhouse gas emission equivalent to taking over 100 cars off the road.

The campaign launches this week and will end in February. Throughout the campaign, student volunteers will be visiting labs to record compliance and will be granting prizes for the research groups with the best performance.