Fume Hoods

Fume hoods are a necessity in a modern lab, however, as they are constantly exhausting air away from the lab while bringing in clean air, they use a large amount of energy. These pieces of equipment are among the most expensive to run in a lab and can consume as much energy as up to 3 households in a single year. Fume hoods can consume twice as much energy as a -80 freezer. Therefore, managing your fume hoods in a more sustainable way can save operating expensive and reduce the carbon emissions of your lab.

Shut the Sash

The “Shut the Sash” programme began in Harvard University as a means of reducing energy consumption and promoting sustainability. It encourages lab users to keep the sash closed when the hood is in operation but not being used and according to a study conducted by the Harvard university it saves an average of $200,00 per year of energy savings, while studies in Ireland suggest this action can result in energy savings of 75%. This is a huge saving financially but also has a large impact on the environment. It is a crucial step in making your lab more sustainable.

Best practices for your Lab

When working in your fume hood, lowering the sash allows for the hood to operate more efficiently. When working with chemicals in the hood, set the sash at the proper opening and do not open it further then is recommended. If you need to step away for a while, be sure to lower it until you hear the click, and this will reduce the speed at which air is running through the hood. Although this may seem like a small act, every little helps.

Ensure nothing is stored in hoods that should not be there. Chemicals and equipment should never be stored in fume hoods as this can block the ventilation and cause the hood to use more energy than is necessary. Instead, chemicals and equipment should be stored in ventilated chemical cabinets. This will keep the hoods clear, unblocked and working as efficiently as they can.

Switch off at night-time or when not in use. Shut your sash before the last person leaves the lab in the evening and ensure lights and blowers are also turned off.

Monitor and keep track of your inflow and report any changes. If you notice your inflow is suddenly much higher or lower than normal, be sure to report these changes to the facility manager. This is as much a safety hazard as it is a sustainability measure. If your fume hood has >150ft/min inflow, turbulence and decreased containment can occur.

Work together with your facility and lab manager to improve the overall management of fume hoods in your lab. Explore the possibility of installing occupancy sensor to automatically turn hoods off at night, even decommissioning hoods that are old and outdated and replacing them with more efficient variable air volume fume hoods. 

Any and all efforts to reduce the energy impact of fume hoods can make a big difference in universities such as UCC. Think of how many fume hoods are in your lab alone and imagine how many are across campus. Together we can all make a big difference.

UC Berkeley has designed a tool to help calculate how much can be saved by shutting your sash here: here

See the Shut the Sash stickers – request option to get some for your lab.