energy water savings

Consolidated’s CEO Challenges Industry with Benchmarks for Energy and Water

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Written by: Scott Mechler

BS Mechanical Engineering, Mechanical Engineer

At a recent sustainability conference (International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories – I2SL) in Boston, Consolidated’s CEO Arthur Trapotsis challenged the steam sterilization industry to provide more “eco-friendly” equipment to research labs and hospitals.

Trapotsis said that autoclaves are one of the single highest consumers of water in the laboratory, dispelling up to 12,000,000 gallons (18 Olympic-size swimming pools) over a (conservative) 15-year lifespan. Even the current state-of-the-art steam sterilizer is an energy and water hog; although the technology is available, consumers don’t necessarily know the options that exist to reduce the sterilizer’s carbon footprint. Trapotsis believes leaders can make an impact by designing to new energy and water savings benchmarks.

“Autoclaves can consume as much as 2,000 gallons of water per day,” said Trapotsis. “But it doesn’t have to be this way. We should be holding ourselves to the higher standard of lower consumption.”

The new autoclave benchmarks, which Trapotsis admits are just a starting point, focus on daily water and energy usage.

New industry benchmarks are listed below:

Trapotsis said the benchmarks have been qualified and are based on three cycles per day (the typical frequency found in a laboratory setting, versus a hospital that could run 12+ cycles/day) — a foundation he hopes will help guide others in the industry.

A Challenge to Lead by Lowering Consumption

The inspiration to challenge the industry and create new consumption standards was heavily influenced by a simple email Trapotsis said he received prior to the I2SL conference earlier this fall.

The email, which Trapotsis said came from Allen Doyle, Green Laboratories and Green Procurement Program Manager at the University of California, challenged him to set benchmarks for the sterilizer industry that incorporate reduced water and energy consumption data.

Calling the benchmarks a “fantastic first step,” Doyle said leadership at the industry level is crucial to ending chronic overconsumption in the lab space.

The autoclave, according to Doyle, can use an incredible amount of energy and water — even if just left to idle all day long.

“It’s literally a million gallons of water a year or more,” he said.

Doyle said he emailed Trapotsis prior to the conference because he believes it’s important to partner with and challenge suppliers of laboratory equipment to embrace green practices similar to what’s in place in today’s more progressive laboratories.

“The environment is going through some incredible changes, if the industry (and manufacturers) doesn’t lead, we won’t get anywhere,” said Doyle.

Next Steps for Consumption Control

These new benchmarks, if adhered to by sustainability officers and purchasing agents, will not only require autoclave manufacturers to incorporate water and energy saving systems into their products, but also require lab managers and purchasing agents to procure equipment that meet these standards. This is part of a long term strategy to limit overconsumption and reduce the carbon footprint of autoclaves around the world.

Allison Paradise, Executive Director of My Green Lab, a non-profit dedicated to creating safe, sustainable laboratories, said developing industry standards for energy and water consumption is one of the fastest ways to drive an industry toward integrating sustainability into design.

“The establishment of an Energy Star standard for ULT freezers resulted in an explosion of energy-efficient models on the market,” said Paradise. “Autoclaves consume far more energy — and water — than freezers, and the impact an energy- and water-efficient autoclave would have in reducing carbon emissions would be significant.”

Paradise said the fact that Consolidated is challenging the market, and themselves, to meet a higher standard is unprecedented in the life sciences industry.

“I hope that other manufacturers will follow Consolidated’s lead and do their part to reduce the environmental impact of laboratories,” she said.

Consolidated is dedicated to supporting laboratories to achieve their sustainability goals through products engineered and tested to be the greenest possible design. Contact us to learn more about this latest green initiative or to collaborate on further efficiency measures.


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