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Freezer Challenge 2021: Optimize Your Cold Storage Practices!

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-80°C is needed for storage of many high-value samples but ULT freezers consume energy - how can we optimize the usage of ULT freezers? The International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL)/ My Green Lab® will reward the best improvements for sustainability in the freezer handling. Join the 2021 Freezer Challenge and share the spirits…

Global warming is one of the challenges for all of us. One of the easiest ways you can reduce your environmental impact in the lab is to consider the energy consumption of devices. Ultra-low temperature (ULT) freezers, even environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient ultra-low units, consume a large amount of energy as they maintain extremely low temperatures 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for years.

Since -80°C is needed for storage of many high-value samples, how can the usage of ULT freezers be optimized? Discover the best ways!

For the 2019 Freezer Challenge, over 400 labs representing 41 organizations around the world tried their very best to win the challenge. Together, the 2019 Freezer Challenge participants saved ~2.4 million kWh/year. The energy savings realized from this Challenge are equivalent to reducing carbon emissions by ~1,700 metric tons.

For the 2020 Freezer Challenge, due to COVID restrictions globally, the number of participating labs was lower (218x) but from now 88 different research institutions worldwide. The 2020 participants saved ~3.2 million kWh/year. The energy savings realized from this Challenge are equivalent to reducing carbon emissions by ~2,260 metric tons.

All Freezer Challenge winners were honored at the annual (online) I2SL conference and their accomplishments were published in Nature!

Now, the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL) and My Green Lab® have partnered together again to reward best practices in cold storage management and sustainability: The Freezer Challenge 2021.

How can you participate?

It’s easy: ULT freezer users are invited to compete with colleagues from around the globe.

Labs and researchers can earn points by taking simple actions such as defrosting and cleaning out freezers, adjusting temperature set points, improving sample management, or sharing space with colleagues. A complete list of the actions is below. While labs are encouraged to take all of these actions, it is not necessary to do them all to compete in the Challenge. The goal is to save as much energy as possible.
  • Good Management Practices
    • Defrosting freezers for less ice and snow
    • Cleaning out freezers and refrigerators for improved performance
    • Inventorying samples to dispose non-needed samples
    • Storing samples at high density organized by sample management software

  • Temperature Tuning
    • Adjusting the set point of ultra-low temperature freezers
    • Storing samples at appropriate temperatures to the temperature needed

  • Retirements & Upgrades
    • Retiring and replacing older refrigeration units with energy-efficient units
    • Decide for a green unit with natural gases when investing in a new unit

  • Cutting-Edge Practices
    • Sharing refrigeration space with colleagues to save space
    • Barcoding samples for improved sample management
    • Trying/ adopting room-temperature sample storage
The Goal
Awards will be given to those who have done the most to save energy and improve their sample storage. The deadline for submitting score sheets is July 1st, 2021.

For more information on the 2021 Freezer Challenge and to register your lab go to:

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