Environmental Studies Program


Date of this Version

Spring 5-2012


This study examines sustainable behavior and methodology in university research labs. Environmental problems like global warming are becoming common knowledge to many people throughout the world, and it is necessary for humans to live in more sustainable ways that leave a healthy planet for future generations. Universities are an important part of the global community, and it is pertinent that they become more involved in sustainable efforts. University research laboratories produce large amounts of regular and hazardous waste, use massive amounts of energy, and are currently not operating in sustainable ways. The purpose of this study is to determine the criteria of sustainable research labs and how these can be used to implement green methodology in labs. A literature review was performed to determine the criteria, and these were used to create a Lab Sustainability Checklist that can be used to help labs become more sustainable. The established criteria fall into five categories, including: energy conservation, green chemistry, waste reduction, sustainable management practices, and water conservation. The most common criterion found in the literature involved educating and training researchers, lab employees, and students about sustainable best practices in the lab, and this will be key to improving sustainability. While there are many barriers to lab sustainability, improvements in technology and education can go a long way in implementing sustainable practices.