Energy saving in research

From Bioblast

high-resolution terminology - matching measurements at high-resolution

Energy saving in research


Energy saving in research must rank as a priority of social responsibility β€” ever since the Club of Rome published 50 years ago the seminal book on The limits to growth (1972) [1], and more so today in face of the global threat of climate change and the russian war in aggression against Ukraine.

Energy saving in research does not and must not clash with quality in research. Application of high-quality and predefined experimental protocols combined with evaluation of repeatability and reproducibility represents primary strategies for energy saving in research. Publication of irreproducible results β€” adding to the reproducibility crisis β€” is the most wasteful aspect of research in terms of resources including energy (more properly: exergy). Paywall journalism is wasteful in terms of financial resources. Dramatically increasing numbers of scientific publications is a pathway towards waste of energy [2].

Besides large-scale strategies on e(n)xergy saving in research β€” quality versus quantity β€”, everybody's everyday contributions to energy saving count: to cut greenhouse gas emissions, save biological and geological diversity, and improve equality across societies, gender, continents, and countries.

Do scientists take responsibility for energy saving? Or does biomedical research merely find excuses? Scientific institutions in academia and industry must implement energy saving strategies to reduce waste according to the European Union's Energy efficiency directive, and to consume less energy (exergy) by using it more efficiently (Energy efficiency targets).

Possible β€” important but much neglected β€” contributions include:

  • Re-use materials as a superior strategy than recycling, and reduce application of disposable items.
  • Reduce waste in cleaning procedures, but do not compromise the quality of cleaning procedures.
  • Replace inefficient equipment (e.g. water baths) by efficient electronic Peltier temperature control.
  • Select conferences that you attend by evaluating their 'green deal' strategy. Combine in a single trip participation in a conference and possibly offered satellite events.
  • Turn off non-essential equipment; reduce energy-wasting stand-by modes; turn off computer screens and other equipment at the mains when not in use. The monitor consumes over half of the energy used by the average computer. Lower your screen brightness.
  • Turn off the lights when you do not gain from extra illumination, when you leave the lab during the day or at the end of every day.
  • Reduce heating of the rooms to 19 Β°C, cooling of rooms to 25 Β°C. Apply energy-efficient heating and cooling strategies.
  • Define your personal energy saving targets at homeoffice and in your workplace.
  • Contact your energy quality manager, to suggest improvement of infrastructure and guidelines that help you and other members in the team to comply with energy saving targets.

[1] Meadows DH, Meadows DL, Randers J, Behrens III WW (1972) The limits to growth; a report for the Club of Rome's project on the predicament of mankind. ISBN 0876631650 - Β»Bioblast linkΒ«
[2] Gnaiger E (2021) Beyond counting papers – a mission and vision for scientific publication.

Communicated by Gnaiger E 2022-07-25

Some links

Gentle Science
Possible energy saving procedures include a long list - such lists can be found in and extended by several publications and institutional websites, e.g.:
Oroboros quality management

MitoPedia O2k and high-resolution respirometry: Oroboros QM 

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