Hanging inefficient equipment out to dry

A lab equipment replacement project that minimises environmental footprint by 65%, and saves £38,000 in energy costs.

Drying cabinets are regularly used in labs to dry glassware. One of our Chemistry technicians brought it to our attention that these cabinets were left on 24 hours per day and emit a lot of heat to the lab. Not only is this directly wasteful, but also requires the use of additional cooling to keep temperatures within laboratory limits. Our Biomedical, Chemistry, Geography and Earth Sciences Departments had 78 units between them, consuming around £54,000 of energy or 396 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

Sustainability replaced all inefficient and costly drying cabinets

As part of our Sustainable Labs Initiative, and funded from the Carbon Management Plan, we replaced all 78 old units with new, energy-efficient models. These new units carry two main benefits:

1) They are insulated: As one of the first of its kind, the insulated drying cabinet retains heat meaning less energy is consumed and less heat wasted through convection to the surrounding atmosphere.

2) They include an inbuilt timer: Ordinarily units are left on 24hrs/day. An inbuilt timer enables the drying cabinet to turn off for up to 10hrs/day.

Collaboration with Procurement, technical and academic staff

Involving over fifty laboratories, the broad scope of the project needed a collaborative approach. Our Laboratory Procurement team worked closely with the Sustainable Labs Officer to tender and secure a two-year contract for the high-efficiency drying cabinets. This guarantees all new purchases are the most sustainable and economic option available. Furthermore, Sustainability has implemented an ongoing initiative whereby we will fully-fund the replacement of inefficient units. 

The reduced energy costs mean the new units pay for themselves in 3.7 years and is a great example of how sensible purchasing decisions can benefit us both financially and environmentally. 

April 2016

An insulated drying cabinet

Results highlights

This project saves 243 tonnes of CO2e and £32k per year.

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