Sustainable Labs

Labs are an essential component of a research university and can play an important role in advancing NC State’s sustainability goals.

Sustainable Labs at NC State is an effort to promote sustainability in the lab environment, focusing specifically on four major pillars: energy consumption, waste reduction, water conservation and safety enhancement. Sustainability is one of NC State’s core values, and Sustainable Labs embody the university’s commitment to wise stewardship of resources, prudent financial planning and environmentally responsible operations.

Four Pillars Of Sustainable Labs

Our Approach

The four pillars of Sustainable Labs can be classified into two complementary approaches to the Sustainable Labs program: Facilities and People.


This approach concentrates on facility and infrastructure-based enhancements in lab design, such as:

  • Installation of Variable Air Volume (VAV) fume hoods
  • Integration of energy-efficient LED lighting
  • Phasing out single-pass cooling systems
  • Implementation of other mechanical improvements 

These initiatives collectively establish a baseline for minimizing the environmental footprint of laboratory operations.

Student in white lab coat and blue gloves in lab filling pipette


Sustainable Labs adopts a behavioral approach by empowering individuals to voluntarily adopt environmentally-friendly practices to “green” their labs, such as:

  • Turning off lighting when not in use
  • Shutting the fume hood sash
  • Recycling laboratory materials correctly
  • Using less hazardous chemicals
  • Running dishwashers at full capacity

By choosing to implement just a few of these best practices, substantial economic and environmental savings can be achieved.

Labs at NC State account for:

of the built environment

of the energy budget

of single-use plastic purchases

Interested in hosting a Sustainable Lab?

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Additional Resources
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