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Your Lab Could Save 80% of the Water It Is Consuming

An aerial photo of Lake Mead in November 2015

Conservation isn’t all about paper and plastic. In the western US (and other arid regions around the world), water is becoming more scarce every year, prompting people to get creative so they can maintain the lifestyle to which they are accustomed. One undeniable sign is that Lake Mead, the reservoir that three arid states rely on for freshwater, hit a historical low point in 2016—with no sign of rebound.

Saving water in laboratories is likewise a simple equation. John Dilliott, energy manager at the University of California, San Diego, told Mike May of Science, “Energy efficiency in laboratory equipment is extremely important. It’s a major, yet virtually untapped area.” Often, upgrading equipment is all that is needed, although shopping around for those units you use a lot — like table autoclaves, incubators, and centrifuges — will save significant amounts of water, energy (and therefore money). For example, medical grade autoclaves are common in US labs, and can consume more than 640 gallons of water per day. Research grade autoclaves, which have become more widely available outside Europe in recent years, consume less than 44 gallons of water per cycle.

Not only does water conserving equipment help research institutes pay less in utilities, it will also help keep those labs operating as arid regions — like the southwestern states served by Lake Mead — face impending water cutbacks.

[Photo credit: Tom Hart CC BY 2.0]