Category: Labs

KCL Sustainability: Green Labs

While King’s has been greatly investing in its broad sustainability agenda, there has also been a drive to innovate in our laboratories. Despite covering just over 10% of our floor space, our labs are spread across all 4 campuses and use a disproportionately large amount of energy and water, as well as produce dangerous chemical waste.

To address this untapped area, Kings has invested in over the past 18 months in a post to lead in this area as well as invested in the projects highlighted. Here are just some of the scheme’s we’ve recently implemented to improve the efficiency of King’s labs.

 Savawatt Installations

This £38,000 installation project saw 584 Savawatt controls being installed into our research fridges and freezers which saves about £15,000 each year (and roughly 68 tonnes of CO2) meaning it pays back its cost in about 2.5 years.

Green Impact: Lab Sustainability Champions

Just like in our King’s offices, our lab staff take part in an awards programme which helps reduce energy, water and general waste across the labs. They also get audited for their work at the end of greeni_logoeach year for an award promoting an environment of commitment to sustainability.

This year 20 teams are participating which is the most laboratory teams for any university in the UK.

Drying Cabinet Exchange

33 old uninsulated drying cabinets were consolidated and replaced by 28 insulated efficient models, paying back our investment in 4 years and achieving £15,000 of annual savings.

blogfumecup Fume Cupboard Management Policy

Already applied to new fume cupboard installations, this technical policy will take over a year to implement but will result in hundreds of thousands of pounds saved!

Cold Storage Policy

Our laboratories are subject to a ‘Cold Storage Policy’ which is used at other universities such as Oxford amongst others. This promotes efficient, safe and sustainable practise for using the research laboratory fridges and freezers.

Current/Future Endeavours

  • Continued installation and refurbishment of fume cupboards and ventilations systems
  • Introduction of Warp-it system for redistributing unwanted resources warpitamong other institutions such as UCL who have been very successful with the system
  • Joint UCL/KCL procurement mini-tenders

 More to come!

Look to our case studies on our labs page for summaries of all the above projects and plenty more to come, including a variety of small projects lead by local lab staff (timer installations, equipment exchanges, UPS installation, freezer warm-ups, waterless condensers and more).

If interested in our growing collection of case studies see here:

You can also contact our Research Efficiency Officer Martin Farley (

King’s Sustainable Lab Awards

Last week the Sustainability team hosted the first ever KCL Lab Sustainability Awards. These awards are a part of the NUS Green Impact awards with a focus on research laboratories, and utilise the S-Lab environmental assessment framework to evaluate labs for their efficiency and sustainability. 10 teams participated in the awards; the most teams in England. 8 won bronze and the other 2 teams commendably won silver, as the long-term goals are for incremental effective improvements which are user driven.

A host of positive actions were taken as a part of these awards. Martin Farley, (Research Efficiency Officer and lab-awards manager) spoke of some tissue culture labs at FWB managed by Beatriz Padilla (PhD candidate). Their ULT freezer was almost full and they were either about buy a new freezer or out source for space. Instead they decided to defrost there ULT freezer as a part of the awards. They managed to create ~40-50% more space, audited the samples they had, and put less strain on the freezers compressor by cleaning the dirty filter. Not only did they avoid purchase and running costs of a new ULT freezer, they saved on the one they owned.

Worth mentioning are the two silver teams: Dr. Bernard Freeman (Lab Manager) and Sandhya Anantharaman (Research Technician) helped SGDP achieve a silver award with their in-house designed online lab management tools. Women’s Health also commendably achieved silver through their note-worthy engagement and shared plans to re-engage with the awards next year. Dr. Pamela Taylor-Harris of the Women’s Health Team (also including Cally Gill and Rima Patel) stated “Women’s Health were definitely inspired by lab sustainability and I’m sure would like to take part again and continue to improve practice in the future.”.

Next year the aim is to grow the number of teams participating, and aid the repeating teams to achieve new and improved goals in an aim to bring all labs to a Gold standard. Look to our website for more details and updates about what is going on, or contact Martin Farley or the sustainability team at

Sustainable labs at King’s

Martin_labsThis week we are catching up with Martin, our Sustainable Labs Project Coordinator, to find out how he is getting on with making King’s labs more sustainable.

As part of Martins job he is currently collecting information about various different pieces of equipment throughout the labs at King’s. Within these surveys he is looking at a variety of lab specific equipment including drying cabinets and fume cupboards, with an aim to reduce energy consumption and improve usage.

One current project involves replacing drying cabinets with much more efficient models. Furthermore Martin has been giving out timers to labs so that non-critical equipment such as drying cabinets can be turned off at night and then come on again in the morning, saving plenty of energy during nights. The estimated savings from the timers alone is expected to save around £30,000 over the next 10 years at King’s.

Martin is also looking at fume hoods and their usage to ensure they are being used correctly and are working as efficiently as possible. Many of the fume hoods are VAV (variable air volume) which have the potential to save a lot of energy. However it is vital that these are being used correctly and Martin is surveying to determine the status of our current usage.

Another large part of Martins role focuses on Sustainability Champions in labs. Within this programme, labs teams are asked to complete a workbook, which looks at improve the sustainability of the lab from waste and recycling to chemicals and materials. There are now 9 lab teams across King’s, representing the labs from all campuses. All of the Champions are at least at bronze level and are working hard to improve the sustainability of their labs. Martin is currently in the process of auditing these area and the awards for labs will be in July, hosted by Nick O’Donnell.

If you’d like to get your lab involved or would like more information on sustainable labs please contact Martin.