At The University of Leeds our target is to reduce our carbon emissions by 35% (compared to 2005/06 levels) by 2020. A challenging feat and one which laboratories play a huge part. In total there are 546 labs across the university (including those in St James Hospital), and due to their energy intensive nature, we know significant savings can be achieved through behavioral changes, equipment maintenance and energy efficient purchases.

To view the latest Carbon Management Plan please click HERE.

Fume Cupboards

Fume hoods, along with ultra cold storage, are one of the most energy intensive pieces equipment in laboratories. They are used to remove hazardous airborne substances produced during experiments.

Significant energy savings can be achieved through simple behavioral changes such as keeping the sash closed when not in use and powering them down at the end of the day (whenever possible).

Priestley lab room
Priestley Laboratory Fume Cupboard Refurbishment

Energy efficient modifications to the Priestly fume cupboards in 2014 included;

  • Existing duct work systems and fume cupboards upgrade to change from constant volume to variable volume operation.
  • Installation of independent solvent and chemical storage cupboard ventilation system.
  • Duct work altered to provide energy efficient facility for 8 cupboards to operate outside of normal operational hours.
  • Passive Infra-red sash prompts fitted to cupboards to prompt users to close sashes if left open for more than 2 minutes.
  • Improved local controls to enable lab staff to select appropriate number of fume cupboards for class size and isolate those cupboards not required.
  • Installation of a remote monitoring system and energy sub metering to check operation.
  • Upgraded controls to maintain a constant dilution system efflux velocity of 16m/s.

Did you know?

The Priestley Fume Cupboard refurbishment was the winner of the 2014 S-Labs “Environmental Improvement” Award, beating 6 other shortlisted entries!  It was awarded for demonstrating how design best practice, successfully installed and implemented by the users, can significantly reduce the energy consumption of laboratory ventilation systems.

Cold Storage

University laboratories, especially bio-science labs, typically occupy a large number of cold storage equipment such as ultra-low (-80°C) freezers and fridges. They are some of the most energy intensive pieces of equipment in labs and so it is crucial that they are maintained in an energy efficient manner and that users are knowledgeable of the procedures in order to do so.

The University’s freezer guidance document (below) provides advice on how to maintain your freezer units at optimum efficiency, detailing best practice and sustainable purchasing information.

Did you know?
A typical -80°C freezer can consume almost as much energy as a single family home!


Ensure your lab space is maximising the use of natural light by opening blinds and removing obstructive items from windows. Additionally, consider replacing fixtures with more energy efficient lighting, such as LEDs. (For more information about lighting replacements please contact The Energy Team of Estate Services).

Ask yourselves;

  1. Are lights turned off in areas that are not in use?
  2. Are there ‘Turn Off’ prompts next to light switches and lamps?

Did you know?
Lighting energy intensity in labs is up to twice that of a typical office space.

Powering down equipment

Does your team know which pieces of equipment can be powered down over night or over the weekend? Are they correctly labeled so users know how and when to power the kit down?
Timers can be applied to certain pieces of equipment, such as water baths and ovens, which will switch off the appliance when a cycle has finished. Inquire as to whether these can be implemented in your lab.

Power down sticker templates: