I love my job. The main reason is that I help labs save vast amounts of money whilst fighting climate change.
I also get to work with some fantastic people. They’re researchers, technical staff, building managers, energy and carbon managers and procurement officers. Although these roles are specialised, I’m regularly asked the same question by all of them; what is the best, most sustainable equipment model we should buy?
This model could be from a variety of equipment classes; fridges, freezers, ULT freezers, CO2 incubators, cooled incubators, fume cupboards, microbiological safety cabinets, drying cabinets, thermal cyclers, water baths, hotplate stirrers, chillers, rotary evaporators, ovens and autoclaves.
Regardless of the equipment type there are two dos and don’ts that will always be useful:
Do: Ask end users what they need the equipment to do now and in 5+ years’ time. Often end users will say they want the equipment still functioning after 5 years. Over recent years some models have sacrificed robustness with less expensive components which shortens lifespan. Aside from a decent lifespan, having a model which can carry out a variety of functions/applications keeps bench space free and ultimately saves money.
Don’t: Avoid solely using manufacturers’ data to inform your decision, the conditions and accuracy of ‘measurements’ vary greatly. Remember all manufacturers will make the best model.
Do: Find out all the costs associated with running the equipment, total life costs often dwarf the buying price.
Don’t: Avoid making a decision heavily weighted on price, you often get what you pay for.
Andy Evans is Director at Green Light Laboratories Ltd and is organising the “Sustainable Laboratory” feature at Lab Innovations. This area will highlight environmentally-friendly products and cutting-edge case studies of sustainable initiatives in the lab.