UW–Madison Laboratories Pilot the My Green Lab Program

Laboratories are resource-intensive facilities that typically produce more plastic waste and use more energy and water than office spaces. UW–Madison is currently partnering with My Green Lab to pilot their certification program (recognized by the United Nations Race to Zero Campaign) to improve sustainability within research labs on campus. This involves labs filling out a baseline survey about their practices that is then used to create a personalized sustainability action list. 

My Green Lab (MGL) is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping labs become more sustainable in the areas of energy, water, waste, and chemical use by recommending the best sustainable practices to implement. Examples include increasing freezer temperatures to -70 degrees Celsius, adding aerators to faucets, and putting equipment on outlet timers. These changes can help reduce the environmental impact of labs while also educating employees on the importance of sustainability within their own lives.

The Office of Sustainability Green Labs Team has led the initiative in recruiting UW–Madison labs to pilot this certification process. These labs are currently in the preliminary stages of providing baseline information on their current practices to MGL, which will be used to personalize their sustainability goals over the course of a year. Labs will then be assessed every two years for recertification. Based on the percentage of sustainable practices implemented and the extent to which the lab adopts them, they will receive a certification of bronze, silver, gold, platinum, or green. This is an ongoing process, and labs have the opportunity to continue to improve and reach higher levels of certification. 

The following UW–Madison labs are participating:

  • Members of the Bolling Research GroupBolling Research GroupThe Bolling Research Group is studying the relationships between food composition, bioavailability, and health effects. Foods have many different types of unique molecules beyond vitamins and minerals that may improve health. These non-nutrient molecules are known as “dietary bioactives.” The research group is working to understand how dietary bioactives from fruit, vegetables, nuts, and dairy products improve immune function and reduce chronic disease risk. The profile and abundance of dietary bioactives depends on many factors, including the type of food, growing conditions, food processing, and storage.Research on how dietary bioactives impact immune function and reduce disease risk can aid in the production of high-quality foods for improving health. The Bolling Group is attempting to improve chemical analysis of food bioactives and understand the complexity of metabolism and bioavailability of these molecules, and it is using cell-based assays, rodent models of inflammation, and human intervention studies to understand how dietary bioactives can prevent chronic disease.”
  • Members of the Comparative Ocular Pathology Laboratory of WisconsinCOPLOW “The Comparative Ocular Pathology Laboratory of Wisconsin was founded in 1983 by Dr. Richard R. Dubielzig, a board-certified veterinary pathologist with a long-time research interest in ocular pathology. The extent of the service has grown exponentially, currently providing histopathology diagnoses for more than eight thousand cases annually. COPLOW is a mail-in service designed to evaluate ocular and periocular tissues to provide diagnoses for veterinarians and veterinary ophthalmologists around the country and the world. Veterinary specialists in ophthalmology need a service that not only provides a timely and accurate diagnosis but is capable of going beyond the diagnosis and investigating relevant aspects of ocular pathology to better understand the pathogenesis and prognosis of veterinary ocular disease. The laboratory is also interested in disseminating information on ocular pathology to students of veterinary ophthalmology at all levels.”
  • AGELThe Advanced Genome Editing Lab provides a range of genome editing services to many other labs on campus and beyond. Some of its areas of expertise include creating CRISPR models of mice, rats, and pigs; generating genome-edited clonal cell lines; and providing support for custom genome editing applications, including the development of therapeutic programs.”
  • Members of the Handelsman LabHandelsman LabThe Handelsman Lab uses multidisciplinary techniques to understand the structure and function of microbiomes. It applies metagenomics, genetics, and small molecule chemistry to study biochemistry and genetic regulation of antibiotic production, microbial diversity, antibiotic resistance, and symbioses in communities in soil, on plant roots, and in the human gut. The lab developed a three-species model community—named THOR for “The Hitchhikers of the Rhizosphere”—to study the nature of community robustness, invasion processes, and emergent properties of microbial communities. The Handelsman Lab also houses the Tiny Earth Chemistry Hub, a research center focused on expanding the work of Tiny Earth to discover novel antibiotic compounds from soil bacteria.”
  • Members of the Koch LabKoch Lab“The Koch Lab resides in the Department of Plant Pathology and the Molecular and Environmental Toxicology Program, and it focuses on creating attractive and functional urban landscapes that simultaneously benefit pets, people, and the environment while reducing the non-target impacts of water, fertilizer, and pesticide usage. The lab pursues this primary goal through a variety of applied and molecular research projects, and the results are disseminated to the general public through an active extension and outreach program.”
  • UWBC DNA Sequencing FacilityMembers of the UW–Madison Biotechnology Center DNA Sequencing Core — The UW–Madison Biotechnology Center DNA Sequencing Core is a state-of-the-art lab that employs advanced techniques and knowledge to answer genomic questions for researchers on campus and around the world. It employs Illumina, PacBio and Oxford Nanopore technologies. They thrive on collaborations for new and exciting projects as well as providing the basic data that drives day-to-day research on campus.”
  • The Williams Lab  — “The Williams lab goal is to develop novel devices for recording from and stimulating neural tissue (central and peripheral nervous system) that are both safe and durable for long-term use in animal models and human patients. The lab fabricates and validates the use of these novel devices in bench top testing, in vitro and in vivo animal models and analyzes the biological response to the implanted devices. The lab also focuses on the creation of novel microfluidic and micropatterned devices to aid in neuron and glial cell culture research. It does this with the objective of learning how neurons and glia respond to electric fields to better guide neuronal growth and understand underlying mechanisms of neuromodulation. An additional aim is to investigate how neuromodulation affects the lymphatic systems of the nervous systems to aid in neurodegenerative disorder treatments.”

How to get involved:

Are you interested in becoming My Green Lab certified? Email greenlabs@g-groups.wisc.edu!

Interested in learning more about My Green Lab and their mission? Please visit: https://www.mygreenlab.org/.

If you would like to learn more about the Office of Sustainability Green Labs team and sustainability certifications for labs, please contact: greenlabs@g-groups.wisc.edu.