Yale School of Medicine launches Laboratory Sustainability Plan

January 27, 2014

Laboratories are both the crown gem of a research institution and a real challenge in terms of energy consumption and waste production. Laboratories consume tremendous amounts of energy for ventilation, refrigeration, and lighting. Medical research also produces a significant amount of chemical and biomedical waste. Comprising approximately half of the laboratory space on campus, the Yale School of Medicine is home to many of the most energy intensive buildings at Yale. The School of Medicine also generates approximately 70% of all regulated waste on campus.

In light of these significant factors, the Yale School of Medicine recently launched a Laboratory Sustainability Plan that outlines action items to reduce energy, greenhouse gas emissions, and waste in its laboratories. The plan is among the first of its kind in the country in delineating a strategy for energy and waste reduction in medical school laboratories.

Successful implementation of the Yale School of Medicine Laboratory Sustainability Plan will be critical to the achievement of Yale’s broader sustainability goals, as outlined in the Yale Sustainability Strategic Plan 2013-2016. In a letter to the Yale School of Medicine community, Dean Robert J. Alpern, M.D., said “The School of Medicine is an enthusiastic partner in this effort… The success of the university plan will depend to a significant degree on the actions we take here on the medical campus.”

To reduce energy consumption, the plan outlines various new and ongoing initiatives, including improved lighting control and cold storage equipment efficiencies. The plan also calls for adjusting air flow rates and thermal conditions in vacant spaces. In the area of materials management, the plan includes expanding single-stream recycling, increasing chemical recycling and re-use, and reducing biomedical waste.

The plan was jointly developed by administrators and staff members at the School of Medicine, the Office of Sustainability, Yale Facilities, and the Office of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS). The Office of Sustainability, Facilities, and EHS will implement the plan, in partnership with departmental Lead Administrators and individuals working in the laboratories.

Read the Yale School of Medicine Sustainability Strategic Plan here.