Laboratory Freezer Challenge

Short description

This project aims to enhance the energy efficiency of research laboratories by reducing the energy impact of cold storage systems.

Long description

Research laboratories typically consume 5-10 more energy per square/foot than do office buildings. Freezers are among the equipment that consumes the most, up to 25% of the total energy consumption. An Ultra-low temperature freezer (ULT) is designed to store samples at temperatures lower than a standard freezer, thus consuming an average of 20KWh/day, which is 10 times more than a regular refrigerator (2.4 KWh/day). The temperature of ULTs, which used to be set at -70°C, were changed to -80°C in the 1990s, without evidence that this would have led to a better stability of the samples. This ten degree difference increases the consumption of energy by up to 30%. Up-chilling ULT freezers to -70°C is a simple and cost-efficient way to make laboratories more sustainable. In addition to up-chilling freezers, there are other tasks that can be accomplished to improve energy efficiency and sustainability. Discarding old samples from freezers improves their effectiveness because they are designed to best keep their temperatures when they are not at full capacity. Cleaning the filter as this gathers dust which increases energy use. Defrosting freezers and replacing the door seal, increases the energy efficincy. These are all low cost tasks but that can greatly improve energy consumption in laboratories. The challenge we propose is based on the well-established “My Green Lab Freezer Challenge”. We believe that having someone responsible at a university level and having a final reward will be beneficial for the effectiveness of the changes proposed here. Contacting and gathering a list of interested laboratories, distributing necessary materials and resources, are all responsibilities that will require effort and time, which is why we believe hiring a student is key to the success of this project.

Scope of the project

The project aims to raise awareness on laboratory energy consumption and resource efficiency, tackling energy consumption caused by refrigerators and ULTs in research laboratories in the whole university.


A total of 600 € is required to support this project. This accounts for:- Student salary (204€). The studentwill be hired for 20h and will be involved in: designing pamphlets, contacting and keepeing track of the involved laboratories, writig self-assessment that will be sent to the partecipant labs to take part of the challenge. - Plug-in timers (350€). These will be given out to the partecipant labs and will be very helpful to allow the regulated switch on/off of lab equipment. - Consumables (46€). Required to print pamphlets and to get the needed equipment to support the labs.

How do you envisage dealing with COVID-19 restrictions?

The challenge will be undertaken by individual laboratories in which the lab members are already seeing each other regularly.This project is not in contradiction with the safety measurements in place in Ireland at the moment.


Trinity College Dublin

Target audience

  • Students
  • Academic staff members
  • Non-academic staff members

Expected date to be completed


Team Leader Information

Name: Camilla Roselli
Faculty/Department: Genetics, Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience
Position: Student
Number of members of this group: 1

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