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The spring 2022 Efficient Freezer Rebate Program (EFRP) and My Green Lab Freezer Challenge are now open! Eligible labs have the chance to receive a rebate of 35% of the cost (up to $5,000) of a new ultra low freezer.

Sustainable Carolina, funded by RESPC, will also reward the UNC lab that performs the best during the My Green Lab/International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL) Freezer Challenge with $5,000 towards a new ultra low freezer!

This year’s EFRP rebate application is open until February 28. Participating labs must also register for the My Green Lab/I2SL Freezer Challenge. This challenge rewards labs that sustainably manage their freezers and other cold storage systems.

Dr. Patricia Basta, leader of UNC-Chapel Hill’s BioSpecimen Processing Facility, won Carolina’s Freezer Challenge last year.

The Basta lab saved 200 kWh of electricity a day during the challenge by adopting and expanding sustainable lab practices.

The Basta lab vacuumed, cleaned out, and defrosted their freezers. They also expanded sample barcoding and stopped using two old, inefficient freezers.

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has won the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories Freezer Challenge for three years in a row. More than 20 laboratories across their campus participated in the challenge.

Urbana-Champaign’s best sustainable practice tip is to retire outdated samples! This is a simple way to save energy and avoid overcrowding in freezers. Last year UNC’s Basta lab removed 54,400 samples from their core lab, almost a full freezer’s worth. Another tip shared by Urbana Champaign is to perform regular equipment inspections and schedule preventive maintenance.

The Efficient Freezer Rebate Program and the Freezer Challenge award are funded by the Renewable Energy Special Projects Committee. RESPC is a UNC student organization that allocates the $4 per student per semester green energy fee. Staff engineers and students worked together to identify the new, efficient freezer models that save energy and are eligible for the rebate. A conventional ultra low freezer uses as much energy a day as the average U.S. household.

Bailey White, EFRP Intern

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