The Freezer Challenge: improving energy efficiency in labs

STEM buildings are responsible for 40% of the University’s energy consumption, and the numerous freezers in labs contribute to this figure. A single ultra-low temperature freezer (ULT) can use as much energy as an average household each day. Ways to reduce the energy consumption of freezers that were encouraged by the challenge include defrosting freezers, vacuuming freezer coils, creating a cold storage inventory, space sharing, using room temperature storage whenever possible and adjusting ULT temperatures from -80°C to -70°C.

From January to July of this year, the Bristol Bioresource Laboratories demonstrated a commitment to more sustainable research by competing in and then winning an award in the 2022 Freezer Challenge.  The challenge, run by My Green Lab and the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories, aims to achieve greater energy efficiency, sample integrity and access and cost savings all while promoting best practices in cold storage management. This year’s challenge saved a total of 6.732 metric tons of carbon, with 1,200 labs from 27 countries taking part, the highest recorded number of participants yet!

The Bioresource Labs from Bristol Medical School won the award for the best ‘medium size lab’ within the Academic Sector Category and in doing so saved on average 283.4 kWh/day, an amazing saving for the lab and the University as a whole! Their dedicated efforts included defrosting 53 freezers, cleaning the filters of 39 freezers, retiring 4 ULT freezers and replacing them with energy-efficient models and fully auditing 51 freezers (49 of which were ULT models).

The Bristol Bioresource Labs will be awarded their certificate at the IS2L conference and will be featured in Lab Manager Magazine. When asked about whether they would participate in the 2023 challenge the said they would aim for the Winning Streak Award, given to labs that beat their energy savings from the year before.

We look forward to seeing if the Bristol Bioresource Labs achieve their goal, if you want to join the Bioresource labs in the 2023 Freezer Challenge register your interest here!


Gardens & Grounds say ‘no’ to the mow

No Mo May at Royal Fort Gardens
More than 10 sites across campus, including Royal Fort Gardens (pictured) are having their mowing relaxed to let the wildflowers in the lawn bloom throughout the month.

No Mow May is well underway at Bristol University with our Gardens & Grounds team joining legions of gardeners across the country to let wildflowers in lawns bloom, providing a feast of nectar for our hungry bees, butterflies, and wildlife.

More than 10 sites across campus, including Royal Fort Gardens, Queens Building, Arts and Social Sciences , Cantock’s Close, various halls of residence and small pockets of green will have their mowing relaxed to let the wildflowers in the lawn bloom throughout the month.

Mowing less saves wildlife

By creating these mosaic habitats in our cities and urban gardens, we can supplement the sharp decline of species rich meadows, which have an estimated loss of 97% since the 1930s, in our countryside and rural areas. University of Bristol’s Urban Pollinator research, led by Jane Memmott and Kath Baldock, has shown urban spaces are a vital source of nectar offsetting this decline. Also, recent findings looking closely at nectar quality by Ecologist Nicholas Tew highlights the pivotal role that species diversity has in supporting pollinators and promoting biodiversity in urban areas across our country. Put simply, mowing less saves wildlife.

Several of these no mow areas on campus will also continue to be managed carefully by our Grounds team and left to continue blooming through June and knee high through July, as meadows form a vital habitat for our campus’s wildlife and city centre over the summer months.

Our Hedgehog Friendly Campus team are also working in partnership with Gardens & Grounds as No Mow May is an important part of their work encouraging greater biodiversity on campus.

Put away your lawnmower on May 1st

Plantlife’s #NoMowMay campaign started in 2018 and the message is simple. Put away your lawnmower on May 1st or leave some patches of grass unmown in your own garden to save wildlife.

Every Flower Counts

At the end of the month, PlantLife invites us all to join in the nationwide Every Flower Counts survey. By counting how many flowers there are in a random square metre of lawn, you’ll receive a Personal Nectar Score, which tells us how much nectar the flowers producing and how many bees they’ll feed. See the PlantLife website for how to take part, either at home on your own lawn or in one of our #NoMowMay locations on campus.