UQ staff save cash and carbon with energy competition

30 January 2015

University of Queensland staff have collectively prevented 77 tonnes of carbon emissions and saved $7600 in electricity costs during a three-week competition aimed at reducing energy consumption in laboratories.
The Shut Your Sash Competition, run by UQ’s Property and Facilities Division as part of the Green Labs program, required participating labs to better manage the use of fume cupboards, which are one of the most energy intensive types of equipment found in scientific laboratories.

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Sustainability Project Officer Christine McCallum, who coordinates the Green Labs program, said the competition provided a great opportunity for staff to improve their energy-saving habits in the lab.
“Ventilated fume cupboards provide a safety barrier for researchers working with chemicals that produce toxic fumes and vapours.
“Each cupboard has a moveable pane at the front called a sash that allows users to control the amount of air extracted from the cupboard to ensure a safe work environment.
“Keeping the fume cupboard sash low or closed is not only safer for users, but it also reduces the amount of conditioned air that is exhausted from the laboratory space, with considerable energy savings,” Ms McCallum said.
During the three-week trial, the five participating institutes reduced their total fume cupboard energy consumption by 40 per cent.
“If these labs were to keep this up over the entire year, they would save approximately $130,000 in energy costs while reducing emissions by more than 1,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, the equivalent produced by roughly 130 average-sized homes,” Ms McCallum said.
Competition winners included the Translational Research Institute (TRI), which won an award for best ongoing operational practice, and the Centre for Advanced Imaging (CAI), which won the most improved lab award.
University of Queensland Property and Facilities Division Deputy Director Mr Geoff Dennis said supporting staff to promote sustainable behaviours was a key objective of the Green Labs program.
“UQ staff are enthusiastic about improving the sustainability of their workplace and helping to reduce energy and resource consumption.
“The Green Labs program provides the resources for staff to improve their understanding of environmental issues specific to laboratories and empowers them to promote sustainable practices in their labs,” Mr Dennis said.
Established in 2012, the Green Labs program now has 31 representatives across 20 UQ laboratories promoting environmentally friendly practices in their labs.

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Environmental management is the planning and implementation of actions geared to improve the quality of the human environment. The postgraduate programs in environmental management at the University of Queensland are multidisciplinary programs designed to enhance the skills and technical expertise of graduates working in all facets of the environmental arena. The programs aim to produce managers able to address the many issues in the highly complex and changing area of environmental management. At Masters level the degree may be taken in a range of fields.
Studies may be undertaken in the following specialisations:

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This plan is designed for students who wish to solve environmental problems. It emphasises the importance of a healthy environment as the basis of sustainable jobs and industries. Students gain the skills and knowledge to work towards sustainable development. Courses explore strategies ranging from cleaner production for individual industries, and better environment design, to regional and national environmental policies and plans.
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Bachelor degree with a in environmental management, environmental science; environmental studies; geography; natural resources; biology; ecology; conservation; sustainable development/sustainability; environmental engineering; marine science; marine studies; or an approved discipline with a GPA of 4.5 on a 7 point scale.

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