The U of I Wins the International Laboratory Freezer Challenge

The Freezer Challenge at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is focused on engaging, educating, and motivating researchers, faculty, staff, and students to promote the best lab-management sample-storage practices and leadership in environmental stewardship. The University started by participating in the National Freezer Challenge in the 2016-2017 academic year. During the 2017-18 academic year, and through efforts by the Eco-Olympics registered student organization and in collaboration with the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, Division of Research Safety; the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE); the Student Sustainability Committee (SSC); and Facilities & Services, the university’s inaugural Freezer Challenge gained the participation of 60 researchers from 58 labs in 17 buildings and among 15 Colleges/departments to reduce annual consumption by 262,800 Kwh’s, an annual cost savings of over $20,000 and equivalent to the yearly energy use of 25 typical U.S. homes. 

Winning the “hat trick,” the U of I was honored recently by the International Laboratory Freezer Challenge as one of the top universities at implementing cold-storage best management practices and reducing energy usage for a third straight year. Twenty-one labs on campus combined to save approximately 263 kWh/day, which is the equivalent energy use of nine average households. 

My Green Lab and the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL) recognized the university’s three-peat with a newly created “winning streak” honor during a virtual award ceremony held at the I2SL annual conference on Wednesday, October 7. Watch the university's award acceptance speech below, featuring campus leadership and some of top performing laboratories on campus. More information about the program is available at