Now in its fifth year, the Freezer Challenge is a six-month sprint designed to incentivize LabOps managers to tend to oft-overlooked housekeeping duties that affect energy consumption and environmental sustainability. This year, Elemental Machines is proud to sponsor the competition in collaboration with My Green Lab and I2SL. But let’s cut to the chase. If you’re here, you want to win. Good news: we found the scorecard, and we’re about to spill the beans.
Defrost and dust your refrigerators.
Defrosting refrigerators and freezers is one of those tasks that’s easy to procrastinate as other duties take priority. The same goes for removing dust from refrigerator intakes or coils.
Take stock of what you have and what you no longer need.
Create new sample inventories or update existing inventories of all cold storage. Clean out refrigerators to remove unneeded contents and samples. Every sample counts, both environmentally and competitively.
Replace standard freezer boxes with high density format boxes.
Every full freezer box you replace will save energy and earn challenge credit.
Move eligible samples to a warmer climate.
Not all samples need a frigid habitat. Every sample you either move to a warmer context, or those contained in freezers or refrigerators you modify, will earn points.
Upgrade cold storage units to higher efficiency models.
Take note of the differential in energy usage, as it will come into play on the scoresheet.
Sharing is caring (and fruitful).
Every research group that shares cold storage space is a win.
Keep track of inventory.
Barcoding inventory is an efficient way of keeping track of samples (and eliminating superfluous storage of abandoned contents.) Every fridge full of barcoded inventory will boost your score.
Give room temp a try.
Room temperature may not work in the end. But giving it a try is the only way to find out (or be rewarded.) Well plates, tubes, reagents, and kits all earn credit.
Think outside the box for extra credit.
The criteria for winning the Freezer Challenge are mostly well-defined. But there’s a caveat: at the end of the score sheet, you’ll be presented with an opportunity to exceed expectations. What sustainable upgrade or modification can you make that others may not have considered? Concoct it, enact it, and record it. Your innovation could very well be the difference between mere participation and success.
Don’t miss the deadline.
Now that you have your marching orders, get to work. Consult the official scoresheet as you go along, then be sure to turn it in before the clock strikes twelve on June 30th. Whether you’re crowned Freezer Challenge champion or not, your sustainable actions will make a positive impact on the planet. That’s a win without question.