Sustainable Labs Working Group Resources for Researchers

Engage the University community; promote and recognize efforts to reduce material, water, and energy consumption while maximizing cost savings; improve safety and accessibility through optimizing operations, training and awareness.

The Sustainable Labs Working Group brings together students, staff and faculty working to embed sustainability considerations into lab processes. 

For Researchers

The McGill Sustainable Labs Guide for Researchers was launched in May 2017 thanks to the work of the Sustainable Labs Working Group, which identified best practices on our campuses and those of our peers that were synthesized into a summary guide to sustainable lab practices at McGill. The Guide stems from the Vision 2020 Sustainability Strategy (approved in spring of 2014). It was reviewed and approved by the University Lab Safety Committee to ensure relevance to the McGill context and our sustainability goals. The McGill Sustainable Labs Guide explains and expands on the six sustainability items that have been added to the Laboratory Safety Inspection Work Form. While these items will not affect inspection scores, they will allow the University to collect baseline data on existing practices and identify opportunities for improvement.

Examples of campus initiatives around sustainable labs

  • social sustainability on campus, ex. teaching practices, design for accessible building spaces.
  • energy reduction initiatives, lab design, educating community re. behavioral changes for impact and accountability.
  • sustainable procurement initiatives ex. reusing major research equipment, asset tracking, mercury thermometer replacement project, end-of-life IT regulation in collaboration with ICS and Office of the CIO; study under way re. lab fridges and freezers; waste management (pipette tips, palettes) in collaboration with suppliers.
  • recycling of electronic waste, fluorescent lamps, and scrap metal; inventory reduction project (MyLab system), waste minimization projects (chemical, biohazardous, radioactive); pilot glass/plastic recycling project in fourteen locations.
  • greener operations: acetone recycler purchased in Chemistry (funded by the Sustainability Projects Fund), mercury-free microscopy, Hg light sources, addressing -80 freezers, implementation of LEAN to improve efficiency
  • laboratory safety inspections (including sustainable labs checklist) and following up with researchers.
  • membership in Synergie Santé Environnement (Global Green and Healthy Hospitals network)
  • participation in Sustainable Labs Canada (SLCan) annual conference
  • development of lab design guidelines (completed June 2018)
  • recognition programme (Sustainable Labs Award, launched in 2018)

For  more general information/resources about other sustainability initiatives at McGill, visit the website. 

The University Laboratory Safety Committee (ULSC) replaces both the Radiation Safety Committee and the Biohazards Committee. By harmonizing laboratory and research safety issues under a single umbrella, the ULSC can address not only the issues related to work with radioactive substances and microorganisms, but also chemicals, lasers and any other lab-specific hazards on a more uniform basis. Learn more about the ULSC.