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Purchases Buying the cheapest lamps, chillers, freezers, ovens, and pumps on offer does not necessarily constitute the most sustainable approach to purchasing. Calculating the life-cycle cost over three to five years may very well reveal that energy-efficient equipment, while possibly more expensive at purchase, will prove cheaper in the long run.

Usage and storage As a general rule, carrying out regular maintenance work on any lab infrastructure is one way to ensure optimal usage of the equipment.

Also, ordering in huge quantities is often considered a price-conscious tactic, yet health and safety should be a constituent consideration when buying chemicals, which is why buying in smaller amounts can often be a greater benefit. This will also tie up less money in stocks, and thus universities gain on several levels (for further information, see Chapter 7. Green Purchasing).

Chemicals As many laboratories hold large quantities of surplus chemicals, often disposed of as waste at considerable cost, knowing precisely which chemicals are stocked becomes vital for the optimisation of usage. While precise labelling of chemicals may sound like the obvious thing to do, it is not necessarily common practice. Setting up a communal storage facility with the possibility for internal exchange will diminish waste, reduce costs in relation to procurement from outside suppliers, and will help researchers with not having to wait for materials to be delivered, which in turn will improve performance efficiency. If and when possible, substitution with less hazardous alternatives will also reduce health and safety risks, as well as environmental impacts and costs (e.g., by avoiding special waste costs).

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IARU - Green Guide for Universities – pathways towards sustainability