Green Labs

The Institute's Green Labs initiative was established in response to the climate crisis and ecological emergency, to reduce the environmental footprint of our research, and other work-related activities.

We aim to reduce emissions and pollution, enhance nature and biodiversity across campus and raise awareness of environmental issues, and their solutions, among staff and the wider community.

To provide a framework for action, we participate in the Green Impact sustainability scheme (SOS-UK), alongside Babraham Research Campus Ltd (BRC) and eight campus companies. We take actions in a diverse range of areas, including energy use, waste, water, transport, procurement, finance, food, engagement, nature and biodiversity. Catch up with the latest projects and news from Green Labs in the Institute's blog.

Energy:

  • Energy efficiency: The Institute installed a Trigeneration system for Combined Cooling, Heat and Power. In three years, this has saved over 2500 tonnes of CO2 emissions and over £1.3m.
  • ‘Chill up’: we have ~40 ultralow temperature freezers, each one using around the same amount of energy as two households per day. We’re racking these freezers and shifting from -80°C to -70°C, to save around 15-25% in energy use.
  • Switch off: we encourage staff to switch off computers, centrifuges, tissue culture hoods and other equipment when not in use (e.g. overnight, weekends, holidays).

Water:

  • The autoclaves in our animal facility were retrofitted with a system that uses recirculating chilled water when condensing steam, saving approximately 32,000L of softened water per week.

Community actions:

  • Participated in the creation of the Babraham Forest Garden
  • Supporting Babraham Primary School Eco Squad (e.g. LESS CO2 scheme, litter picking events)
  • Planted 1000 native hedge plants with Institute staff and local school children

      Advocacy:

      • We strive to promote more sustainable practice in other areas (e.g. catering), but still have much more to do.

        Waste:

        • Reduce: our centralised Stores significantly reduces transport and packaging impacts by consolidating orders and shipments.
        • Reuse: We participate in the UniGreen Scheme for equipment reuse.
        • Recycling: we recycle a wide range of materials and compost animal house waste.
        • We recently established a new waste stream for plastic media bottles (~45,000/year!) and are keen to identify many more new opportunities for reuse and recycling.

        Transport:

        • Institute staff and students have access to the Stagecoach bus pass to support greener transport.
        • Electical vehicle charge points are available on site (more to come soon)
        • Cycle paths and facilities are also available
        • We encourage staff to avoid flying where possible (especially short haul) and commit to carbon offset unavoidable conference flights

        Comms:

        • Giving regular talks to other scientists and community groups (e.g. University of Dundee for COP26, The Crick Institute, CRG Barcelona)
        • Participating in workshops and panel discussions
        • Sharing information with sustainability groups at a wide range of other institutes
        Book covers