Incubator Replacement Projects Hatch Great Savings

November 05, 2021

By Ellen Vaughan and Julio Harvey 

Multiple incubator replacement efforts are leading to energy, greenhouse gas, and financial savings across UCSC’s laboratories. After the Green Lab Program’s (GL) freezer replacement project and incentive program had great success across campus, the GL team decided to expand their efforts to replacing and subsidizing incubators. 

Sukie Arnold, Lead Course Support Tech.
Sukie Arnold, Lead Course Support Tech

Incubators, which usually run 24/7, are huge energy consumers, particularly as they age. Replacing older incubators can have a return on investment of around five years. 

In 2020, the GL team received $28,600 to find and replace old and inefficient incubators from laboratories which had previously been Green Lab Certified. The initiative has already replaced two incubators. Simultaneously, Julio Harvey, Biology Teaching Laboratories (BTL) Manager, had a similar idea—to  upgrade three of his lab’s old incubators with more efficient models. The latter use Peltier element technology for cooling, rather than compressors, dramatically increasing energy efficiency. Julio applied for and received $9,000 from the Carbon Fund to support this effort. Added that to $8,000 from the incubator replacement initiative and $1,500 from MCD Biology Instructional Equipment funds, got him all the funds he needed. 

Utilizing a Watts UP meter (which can be borrowed from the GL Team), Julio conducted a pre-and post-julioharveyheadshot180x142.jpgimplementation analysis of the old and new incubators and found that the new Peltier element incubators use only 6% as much energy as the old Percival machines! It should be noted that the new machines are much more simplified in regards to time settings and temperature accuracy than the old brands, but a very important component of sustainability is first identifying what it is you actually need to accomplish your goals and then right-sizing your equipment to match your needs. 

freezer-challng.pngJulio Harvey was the Sustainability Champion of the Month featured in the October issue of our newsletter for all of his efforts in energy conservation.He has earned an Honorable Mention in the 2020 International Laboratory Freezer Challenge and is a leader in lab sustainability. His efforts contributed to 3.2 million kWh saved in 2020.