Sustainability“My Green Lab”: Certification Programme for Scientific Laboratories

16 February 2024

15 laboratories at Heidelberg University to undergo an evaluation process towards more sustainability in research activities from March

Configuring research operations more sustainably: this is the goal of the international certification programme My Green Lab, in which 15 laboratories at Heidelberg University are participating. The eight-to-ten month evaluation process there aims to reduce energy, resource and water consumption on a sustainable and long-term basis. Initiated by the Vice Rectorate for Quality Development and Sustainability, the certification programme starts in early March 2024 and will be supported by the project office for climate protection and sustainability in the Division of Planning, Construction and Safety.

“Research calls for talent, innovations and ideas but also requires a large quantity of energy and other resources that necessitate a responsible handling of consumption. So science has to take action to reduce its carbon footprint,” says Prof. Dr Karin Schumacher, Vice-Rector for Quality Development and Sustainability at Heidelberg University. Ruperto Carola consequently wants to support its laboratories and working groups in operating in a more climate-friendly way by covering the costs of certification for a total of 25 laboratories and working groups in the pilot phase. 15 of them will start in March, then ten more laboratories and working groups will begin the certification process during the year.

The evaluation process consists of five steps, explains Narasimha Sushil, climate protection manager in the Construction Division. In the first step, advisors from My Green Lab assess the starting situation of the laboratories and make recommendations on how to achieve improvements for sustainable operations. The scientists then have six to eight months to implement the measures suggested by My Green Lab based on the feedback from the respective laboratory on the current status. They receive support with implementation from the project office for climate protection and sustainability, where Narasimha Sushil is located.

Depending on the economies made in energy, resources and water consumption, certification standards are bronze, silver, gold and platinum, or green if 80 percent success is achieved. The award will be accompanied by recommendations for further action. Two years later there will be a fresh assessment with certification. The Heidelberg University institutes participating in the programme include laboratories belonging to life sciences centres, namely Heidelberg University Biochemistry Center (BZH), the Centre for Organismal Studies (COS) and the Center for Molecular Biology of Heidelberg University (ZMBH).

My Green Lab is a nonprofit organisation located in San Diego, California (USA). With the eponymous certification programme it pursues the aim of establishing sustainable standards in the research activities of scientific laboratories and promoting their implementation.