Cold storage - replacement of inefficient equipment
This case study reviews the exchange of under-bench cold storage for efficient consolidated equipment. The purchase was supplemented with funds from King's Sustainability, permitting the purchase of more efficient replacements which would benefit the laboratory, as well as the estate.
Research equipment can be very energy intensive, and ensuring more efficient equipment is purchased can have long-term energy saving implications. Often though, more efficient equipment will come with higher purchase costs. Cost premiums can be earned back though several fold to the estate as equipment will operate for many years. Researchers have little incentive though to purchase more efficient equipment, as savings will be reaped primarily by the estate. Furthermore EU research equipment is lacking in standardised efficiency metrics, and thus researchers can be left confused trying to compare variable efficiency testing methods. To help address this and exemplify the possible further savings by addressing research procurement, we provided supplemental internal funding for particular purchases.
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Bernard Freeman currently manages the Social, Genetic, & Developmental Psychiatry Centre’s (SGDP) research spaces, covering approximately 530 m2
. Much of the cold storage in throughout the department is under-bench fridges and freezers. There were so many that they were blocking space for seating, as well as producing excess heat within the laboratory. Bernard approached the KCL Sustainability team about his interest in purchasing new cold storage equipment, and together they calculated energy payback should new efficient stand-up models replace the current under-bench models. 30 under-bench fridges (10) and freezers (20) were to be replaced by just 10 new units (3 fridges, 7 freezers). As under-bench units are inefficient in their use of space and energy, replacing the 30 units with 10 uprights actually provided much more space for samples! Instead of 3,600 litres of space, the laboratory would then have 5,310 litres, a 48% increase in space. Not only was more space afforded for samples, the units were extremely efficient in comparison, and represented a 30% energy saving in operation.
With these benefits, the team contributed to just under 1/3 of the purchase costs of the new units, calculating that the contribution would pay back in 2.5 years. After this time, the energy savings of the new units will incur savings for the estate. Now the laboratory has a dedicated freezer room (pictured above) which contains all the units together for better management of the heat load produced. Furthermore, accessible bench-space has been greatly increased.
Finally, this has prompted the energy team to provide an ‘efficient equipment incentivisation’ scheme where researchers may apply for supplement funds for efficient equipment premiums.