Team:TU Dresden/iGEM-goes-green

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What is iGEM goes green?

How sustainable is lab work? How much energy does a freezer consume or how many pipette tips do we use?

iGEM goes green logo

Research projects often aim at making the world a better place, but at the same time they consume a lot of materials and energy. The iGEM competition encourages teams to also consider the environmental implications of their projects, and so the team of TU Dresden decided to go one step further. We want to take responsibility for the environmental impact of our whole project and our team. With the “iGEM goes green” initiative we want to share the ecological improvements of our work and encourage as many teams as possible to get involved.

To easily share our idea and prospects with other iGEM Teams, we have collected all our information and ideas about an environmentally-conscious project in our “GoGreenGuide”. Furthermore, we calculated the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG emissions) of our lab work and offered this option to other teams as well with our own created GHG emissions calculation tool. For the development of the guideline as well as the calculation tool we also got in contact with some experts in the field of sustainability and exchanged views with the existing community.

Our vision is to encourage not only other iGEM teams but also research groups worldwide to join the green movement.


How we became green

“Climate change is one of the biggest challenges that humanity faces, and therefore we should think and act sustainably in our everyday life. Science is the basis of innovation, and that´s why we believe that, as young scientists, we bear a special responsibility for guiding our society to more sustainability.”         -iGEM TU Dresden team member

In November 2016 our team first got together to plan our project for the iGEM Competition 2017. Starting with fundraising, developing project ideas and setting up our lab made us realize how much material and devices we were going to need. For the first time, we were not only students attending a practical course or working in an already equipped lab where everything was prepared. Rather, we had to organize everything by ourselves. By the time we had booked our tickets to Boston, we became aware that flights like these (crossing half of the planet) lead to high greenhouse gas emissions.
It seemed kind of contradictory to develop world-changing biological ideas, while at the same time doing harm to the environment. We thought about ways to compensate for that; such as planting trees and finding ways to reduce greenhouse gas emission during our lab work. That’s where the idea of iGEM goes green started.

Airplane Meeting Labmaterials

Where we started

“Initially, I thought it is going to be a small subproject. It all started with the idea of planting trees as an symbolic act. I liked the idea from the very beginning. In the end, it turned out to be so much more!”         -iGEM TU Dresden team member

What seemed like a simple idea initially, became more complicated by trying to find more information about how to reduce the CO2 emissions of a biological laboratory. Due to the high security regulations in biological laboratories it is often not possible to turn off devices and systems (e.g. ventilation) to save energy and the ecological handling of working materials is difficult. In the beginning, we spent a lot of time investigating options and possibilities for planting trees, getting familiar with CO2 compensation, looking for collaborating partners and support. Therefore, we had to face some problems with university regulations and different opinions about sustainability in our team. Nevertheless, we were a motivated and dedicated group of people to realize our idea of a sustainable iGEM project.

Our Vision

We believe that iGEM goes green has the potential to last longer than one iGEM year and we hope that the idea behind it is carried on throughout the years. Maybe sustainable involvement can even become a medal criterion one day. We want to convince research groups and iGEM teams worldwide that with a small effort research and especially lab work can be organized in a more sustainable and eco-friendly manner. Join the movement and come to the green side!

iGEM goes green logo