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The International Freezer Challenge

Conduct safe, efficient, and energy-conscious research!

The International Freezer Challenge is the primary way UIC researchers can get involved in sustainability. By promoting efficient, safe, and organized use of cold storage systems, the freezer challenge helps lab managers, PIs, and departments save money, time, and energy.

Reducing energy use in laboratories by effectively managing equipment is an important step in reaching UIC's goal to be fully carbon neutral by 2050. Join the movement to make UIC a more Energy Conscious Campus, and sign up for the Freezer Challenge today!

Sign up for the Freezer Challenge

Why lab freezers?

Cartoon of a lab manager gesturing to a completely frozen-over freezer saying

Laboratories consume nearly 5 times more energy than a typical office space, and are often the largest consumers of energy on any given campus or at any given institution. After data centers, labs are widely recognized as consuming more energy per square foot than any other sector due to their around-the-clock operations, 100% outside air requirements, and high airflow rates, and their energy-intensive equipment. Some equipment, like microscopes and chargers, use a relatively small amount of energy. But others, like freezers and cold storage spaces, use much more: in fact, ultra-low temperature freezers (-80C) can use as much energy as an average household every day.

UIC is transforming our campus’s energy consumption, from the buildings we work in to the equipment we use. The International Freezer Challenge empowers labs to reduce their energy waste by:

  • Recommending action steps for labs to take to reduce their freezer’s energy waste
  • Providing estimated kilowatt hour savings for each action
  • Offering prizes and recognition, such as a mention in Nature magazine, for winning certain categories
  • Connecting labs to resources and data that can help guide sustainable decision making in purchasing and equipment management
Nick Perez, George Crabtree, and Robert Dixon

“The Freezer Challenge familiarizes you with efforts to better maintain your freezer, and you get information on how much energy you saved. The hardest thing was knowing how and where to sign up!”

Nick Perez  |  Lab Manager of the 2019 winner, the UI Health Biorepository

Student Perspective

Lab professionals don’t have to sacrifice time or sample integrity to be sustainable and energy conscious. UIC student Lizbeth Carrazco explains how and why researchers should get involved in the freezer challenge—and why this year’s challenge is the best year to join yet!

Read Lizbeth's take on sustainable research

Meet the 2020 Participating Labs: