Four and Looking for More

After winning four straight times in the International Laboratory Freezer Challenge, the U of I can still save more energy and money in the future, particularly if Paul Foote has his way.

“I want every lab on campus to know about and participate in the Freezer Challenge,” said Foote, energy conservation specialist. “Small changes, like defrosting a freezer or adjusting its temperature, can have a huge effect.”

Foote has worked with laboratory managers across campus, from plants to animals and everything in between, to find ways to better improve cold storage practices. These collaborations help bring F&S closer to the campus research community by offering a simple way to help the greater good. Thirty-four labs participated in helping save the university 383,075 KWHs in 2021, a cost avoidance of approximately $32,385.

Julie Nguyen, a lab manager with the facilities in Veterinary Medicine, has taken steps to participate in the program in past years. Her work in 2020 alone earned her special recognition from My Green Labs and the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories, which run the Freezer Challenge.

“I feel that these practices are important for any lab anywhere,” said Nguyen. “The changes are easy to make and have a big impact on sustainability on campus.”

To participate, visit or email Paul Foote