Green Labs Program

Green Labs Program

The mission of the Green Labs Program is to promote the reduction of the energy and resource waste created by laboratories without disturbing the research objectives. Green Labs works with lab managers, principal investigators, as well as students working in labs, to guide their laboratories into becoming energy efficient and sustainable.​

About Us:
Green Labs Home Picture

The Green Labs program was initially developed in 2014. At the height of the program, there were 18 certified labs across all campus research buildings. Initially, lab certification was based on the MyGreenLabs assessment tool, and rebate programs were also created in collaboration with Riverside Public Utilities. Research was conducted on lab waste, behavioral changes, autoclaves, and laboratory energy consumption in different disciplines. ​Currently, the Green Labs Program is working with PI's and lab managers to increase efficiency in water and energy use in labs in addition to encouraging proper waste management practices.

  • Educate lab personnel on efficiency in resource management

  • Understand barriers to green lab practices

  • Offer easy options to reduce waste in collaboration with researchers ​

  • Empower researchers to be strong advocates for sustainability ​

  • Create lab spaces that promote sustainable practices  




Why Make Your Lab a Green Lab?​
  • Reduces waste, energy, and water consumption​
  • Improves environmental and personal health ​
  • Prolongs equipment life and reduces equipment failures​
  • Saves money​
  • Nationally recognized, great for adding to grant applications!​ 
The Certification Process:
  1. Introduction Meeting: Upon submitting your UCR Green Labs Certification Interest Form, a member of the Green Labs team will be in touch with you to schedule a 1-hour in-person consultation. During this time, team members will tour the lab and conduct a comprehensive assessment of your lab’s current practices and discuss sustainability measures that can be implemented.​

  2. Pre-Assessment: When your lab is ready to begin working towards certification. A representative from the Green Labs Program will help you fill out the pre-assessment form online. The Green Labs team will then provide you with a feedback report of your results, with recommendations on steps to incorporate sustainability practices in your lab.

  3. Implementing Green Lab Practices: The lab will have 1 quarter to implement the changes they wish to see in their labs with the help of the Green Labs team.  During this phase, the Green Labs team will also deliver some resources necessary for the labs’ success in the certification process.​

  4. Post-Assessment: When ready, your lab will take a Post-Assessment, and a Green Labs team member will visit the lab and assess the sustainable changes made by the lab. The same questions are asked to gauge where improvements have been made, allowing the Green Labs team to assess the “before and after” of results.​

  5. Certification: Following the results of the reassessment, successful labs will be awarded an overall score and certification level. In recognition of their efforts, successful labs will receive incentives and certificates. ​ 

green lab cerify
Current Certified Labs
Lab Name
Issue Date
Ostevik Lab Emerald 90% Spring 2023
Kou Lab Gold 80% Winter 2023





Did you know pic green labs
 ACS Sustainability Grants & Awards

ACS offers sustainability grants and awards to support the advancement of the chemical sciences through research, education, and community projects.

Eligible labs may receive up to $2,500 or 25% of the cost of new energy-efficient equipment!

The Green Labs incentive program is curated for the purchase of energy and water-efficient equipment. If labs plan on purchasing or replacing equipment, the labs can contact the Green Labs Program and apply for financial incentives towards the new equipment. The incentive will apply after you have confirmed your eligibility and purchased your equipment. Fill out the incentive application and the Green Labs team will work with your lab to disburse the incentive accordingly.

  • Labs should be Green Labs certified OR be enrolled in the Green Labs certification process  
    Green Labs Incentive Program
  • All labs (wet or dry) can apply! 
  • Equipment must be certified by one of the following: 
  • Replace old equipment 
  • Save money & energy 
  • Reduce emissions 
How to Apply? 
  • Labs must be in the process of being Green Labs Certified 
  • Equipment must be certified by the following: 
  • Fill out the incentive application
  • Green Labs will determine funding eligibility and contact your lab with the next steps
Resources for Labs:
Shared Instrumentation: 
Lab Microscope
  • UCR has several core facilities, including the microscopy core, the genomics core, and the metabolomics core. These facilities have low prices for the use of shared equipment. They also encourage internal sequencing and metabolomics work, reducing shipping samples to other facilities. Together this helps reduce waste and reduce the equipment needed in each lab.
  • ScotSurplus is home to an eclectic assortment of used but still usable items collected from departments from every corner of the University. To purchase items, labs should contact their accounting departments to initiate transactions with ScotScurplus.
E-inventory (Chemical Inventory using UC Safety):
  • labeled bottles

    This is an online inventory system that helps the campus keep track of hazardous materials stored at​ different locations on campus. Labs are encouraged to barcode all items purchased and add them to the UC chemicals database. This program helps both Principle Investigators (PIs) and UC Riverside track chemicals within the labs, hence avoiding the purchase of unnecessary chemicals and the wastage of precious laboratory space. This program will be promoted through the certification process to encourage more lab involvement and better management throughout the ‘life-cycle’ of chemicals. Email to request more barcodes or if you have any questionsLearn More Here.​

Waste Pickup Services: 
  • UCR Environmental Health & Safety Department offers waste pickup services. You can request pickup of hazardous, biohazardous, radioactive, and universal waste online through the UC Safety system.
International Freezer Challenege:
Green Lab photo 3
  • The International Freezer Challenge is highly comprehensive and includes many practices such as creating​ inventories, defrosting freezers, and adjusting ULT set points to -70°C instead of -80°C. These practices are​ also high point values within the R3 Green Labs Certification Program. In addition to the International Freezer​ Challenge incentives, we will have internal prizes for top UCR participants. Learn More Here.
Future Programs: 
  • Glove Recycling Program 
  • Autoclave Efficiency Research Study 
  • Styrofoam Recycling 
 A. Energy Efficiency:​

Laboratories are one of the largest energy-consuming sectors in the country.  After data centers, labs are widely recognized as consuming more energy per square foot than any other sector due to their energy-intensive equipment and around-the-clock operations. In a typical lab, at least half of the energy consumption is related to the air handling system which maintains air quality and temperature, and another 15% of the energy consumed is from lighting (My Green Lab). For example,​​

  • Ultra-low temperature freezers can use as much  energy as an average household every day​
  • Small water baths can consume as much energy as a dishwasher every hour​
  • Large water baths can consume as much energy as a window air conditioner every hour​
  • Heat blocks can use as much energy as a 50" TV per hour​

Cold Storage:​
Green Labs Picture 4
  • International Freezer Challenge​

  • -70 is the new –80​

  • Maintenance (Defrost and clean refrigerator/freezer coils)​

  • Freezer Location​

Fume Hood​:
  • Be Good in the Hood​

Turn off Lights and Equipment​
  • Turn off Lights

  • Turn off Equipment (Biosafety Cabinets, Autoclaves, Drying Ovens, Plug Load Off)​

  • Timers​

  • Energy Star appliance and instrumentation​

B. Waste Reduction

Labs generate a lot of waste and plastic waste is estimated at almost 2% of global plastic production(My Green Lab). Green Labs Program encourages labs to think about alternatives to single-use items and strategies for tackling the many different types of waste generated by labs.​ Check out the waste reduction resources below. 

Reduce: ​

Reducing waste creation from the start is the greatest approach to making an effect. The following tips can help REDUCE the amount of waste in labs:​

  • Reuse glassware instead of plasticware​

  • Share resources, such as equipment, reagents, chemicals, and space.​

  • Consolidate orders, and order what's needed.  If a small amount is required, consider using the UC Safety system to borrow chemicals from colleagues. ​

  • Purchase from vendors that make conscious decisions to use smaller boxes and less (or no) styrofoam in their containers.  For example, Thermo has recently released a cardboard box alternative to their EPS coolers.​

  • Purchase items that have long lifetimes, or that eliminate waste streams.​

Green Labs Photo 4

Reuse of products in the lab can be challenging because labs need products to be clean and sterile, but there are ways labs can get creative to reuse supplies. Typical non-recyclable lab supplies that could be REUSED are: ​

  • Conical tubes​

  • Pipette tips and Pipette tip boxes​

  • Styrofoam racks​

  • Gel ice packs​

  • Shipping and storage containers


It’s important to correctly recycle items in labs because items put in the wrong bin end up in the landfill. If unsure how or what labs can recycle, visit the Environmental Health & Safety to learn about waste Management. ​

Hazardous waste management at UC Riverside focuses on the collection, transport, processing, recycling, or disposal of waste materials. 'The Waste Management program can help labs manage hazardous chemical, radioactive, biohazardous, and universal waste safely and legally. They provide "Waste Pickup Services" where labs can request pickup of hazardous, biohazardous, radioactive, and universal waste using the WASTe application through the UC Safety system. ​

Infographic Green labs

Alternative programs to help recycle labs waste, such as: ​



Take-back program​

Some companies provide take-back programs, in which the waste is accepted back for recycling or reprocessing. Most of these programs are free, however some are required to purchase products from the company or may charge for shipping. Regardless, it is a great way to recycle and reduce lab waste. Very few materials need further confirmation of sterilization; all materials meant for recycling must be non-hazardous and clean. Listed below are the take-back initiatives within California:

Purchase Greener Products​
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Purchasing environmentally friendly items reduces waste from the production process to disposal. When purchasing products look at the ACT labels also known as the Environmental Impact Factor (EIF) criteria. These labels provide feedback from external stakeholders and industry experts. With the help of insightful feedback from scientists, sustainability directors, procurement professionals, and manufacturers, the EIF criteria is the most comprehensive life science product labeling.​

Manage Inventory​

Effective inventory management techniques can save labs money by preventing repeat purchases and can also drastically cut down on the amount of trash the lab produces. UCR Environmental Health & Safety provides a chemical inventory through the UC Safety system.  For more information, contact the Chemical Inventory Program or call (951) 827-5528. ​RSS Chemical Getting Started Guide

C. Water Conservation:​

Laboratories consume around 4 times more water than office spaces, with 25% used in lab processes. Cage washers, autoclaves, DI water, and single-pass cooling all contribute to the substantial water requirements of many labs.​ According to My Green Lab:

  • It takes 3 gallons of water to make 1 gallon of deionized (DI) water. That's at least 3 gallons of water for every gel you run.​

  • Single-pass cooling systems can easily lead to 1 lab using more than 13,000 gallons of water each year.​

  • Autoclaves can use as much as 60 gallons of water per cycle.  And if your autoclave is >10 years old, chances are it uses up to 90 gallons per cycle.​

Being informed about fresh water is positive for everyone, as fresh water is a finite resource on our planet.​



Autoclaves are widely used in laboratories for sterilizing equipment, reagents, and hazardous waste. Most labs have large autoclaves that are often oversized for the lab. ​While autoclaves and sterilizers are an essential part of the lab, there are some efficient ways to use them. For example:​

  • Consolidate loads.​

  • Choose the right size of autoclave for the lab.​

  • Consider energy and water efficiency when purchasing autoclaves. ​

  • Install water-saving devices onto existing autoclaves.​


Single-Pass Cooling​:

According to MyGreenLab, Single-pass cooling refers to a process in which water is used once for cooling. This is different from closed-loop cooling systems or recirculation systems, which reuse water continuously.  Single-pass cooling isn’t only inefficient, but it’s also a safety risk as it increases the chances of flooding in your lab. By eliminating this from your workflow, you can save hundreds of thousands of gallons of water annually. Instead of continuously running water to cool a reaction, try one of the following:​

  • An ice bucket + a fish pump to create a recirculating water bath​

  • A recirculating water bath​

  • An air-cooled condenser. ​

Conder buying condenser: Findenser™ or CondenSyn Waterless Air Condenser

Eliminate vacuum aspirators:​

Replace vacuum aspirators with membrane/diaphragm/oil-free pumps. Water aspirators consume nearly 15 liters per minute.  A vacuum pump is often available for the same task and will save 900 liters/hour ​(My Green Lab).



Consider adding aerators to faucets. Standard taps and faucets have a flow rate of 4.0 gallons per minute and low-flow aerators can be added to reduce this to less than 1.5 gallons per minute (My Green Lab). ​

Efficient labware washing practices: ​

Create effective procedures for cleaning labware. Dishwashers, autoclaves, and cage washers should only be used when they are fully loaded. After use, these appliances should be turned off or placed in standby mode. Also, consider using biodegradable soaps.​


D. Green Chemistry:​

It is assumed that hazardous substances are a plus in the laboratory setting;  however, their usage is not always required. You can use the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry to find safer, more environmentally friendly substitutes for particular chemicals and chemical processes. For example,​

  • There are less-toxic or non-toxic substitutes for many of the hazardous compounds used in labs. For instance, a safer substitute for ethidium bromide is readily available. ​

  • Hazardous substances are frequently discovered in a lot of lab equipment.​

  • One excellent strategy to cut back on chemical use is to share chemicals or add to a chemical inventory. ​

  • Everyone who works with chemicals should aim to limit their exposure to dangerous materials. ​

Choose Greener Alternatives: ​
Green Labs Photo 6

Identify hazardous chemicals in labs that can be replaced by less toxic alternatives. ChemView is a free database to get information on chemical health and safety data. ChemView database was built by the EPA to provide more streamlined access to chemical information. It is a great tool to identify and compare health and safety data on chemicals regulated under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act which amends the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).​


E. Procurement:​

 Lab items in high demand and without an expiration date, bulk purchasing and purchasing from the on-campus research supply storehouse is encouraged. This will reduce shipping and packaging requirements.​ Before purchasing:​

  • Consider borrowing from colleagues. Labs can use resources like Shared Instrumentation facilities and  UCSafety Share Chemicals.

  •  Consider the energy efficiency of the equipment. Look for devices with high Energy Star ratings or similar certifications.​

  • Consider purchasing products made from recyclable or environmentally friendly materials.​

  • Consider the Lifecycle by looking at environmental implications from production to disposal.​

When purchasing:​
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  • Consider the appropriate size for the needs of the lab.​

  • Consider equipment that carries certifications or labels indicating its environmental performance. For example, Energy Star labels. ​

  • Consider the environmental impact of transporting the equipment to the labs location. Try to select local suppliers or those with efficient shipping practices.​

  • Consider the water efficiency of the equipment. Choose options that minimize water consumption.​

For more information, check our UCR Procurement website and UC Sustainable Procurement Guidelines.


Green Labs Team