Green Labs Symposium Promotes More Energy-Efficient Labs

Leaders from the higher education, healthcare, and biotech sectors gathered Thursday to discuss the best practices for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting energy efficiency in labs around the region.

Sponsored by the Boston Green Ribbon Commission, the power company NSTAR, and National Grid electricity and gas companies, the day-long symposium served as an opportunity to help Massachusetts meet its climate goals and promoting resource conservation in labs.

Mariella Puerto, a senior program officer at the Barr Foundation, which sponsors the Green Ribbon Commission, said that the company hopes to help the state of Massachusetts reach its greenhouse gases goals. The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008 mandates that the state reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050.

Allen Aloise, the director of laboratories and co-director of graduate studies in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, gave one of three keynote speeches, in which he addressed the importance of educating today’s students about how important energy-efficient facilities will be in the future.

“If we don’t give them this information, who will?” Aloise said in an interview after the symposium. “One of the things that came across is that Harvard is very much a leader on this issue…embracing sustainability and energy efficiency.”

The symposium included a networking session, workshops, and a case study of the Smart Labs Initiative at the University of California Irvine.

Heather A. Henriksen, the director of the Office for Sustainability said that the goal of the event was to harness the intelligence and knowledge of energy and environmental leaders and to reach out to those who have had success in the field.

According to Henriksen, the symposium brought together relevant energy-related groups in order to brainstorm ways to make laboratories safe, sustainable, energy efficient, and ready for researchers to facilitate discovery.

Henriksen said that some strategies to reduce greenhouse emissions that stood out at the symposium were improved lab design, modified fume hoods, new and energy-efficient lab equipment, and behavioral education that informs students and professional researchers of the importance of energy-saving practices.

The symposium also served to address Harvard’s 10-year goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2016, even accounting for growth in the size of the University.

—Staff writer Kristina D. Lorch can be reached at klorch@college.harvard.edu.

CLARIFICATION: March 28, 2014

An earlier version of this article stated that Allen Aloise, the director of laboratories and co-director of graduate studies in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, delivered the symposium's keynote address. To clarify Aloise gave one of three keynote addresses at the event.

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