Duke Green Lab Certification

The Duke Green Lab Certification was created to provide research and instructional staff with the opportunity to reduce the environmental impact of Duke University's research and teaching labs.

Environmental Impact of Labs

On a per square foot basis, research labs can require five times more energy to operate than classrooms and office spaces. Currently the utility company supplying electricity to Duke University uses coal as the primary fuel source for electrical generation. Given those two facts, the carbon footprint for a typical research laboratory can be quite large. Laboratories also typically utilize hazardous chemicals and a large volume of consumable supplies. Reducing the amount of hazardous material and handling waste properly can minimize environmental impact. The use of recyclable/biodegradable materials and proper recycling practices also can significantly reduce the lab's impact.

Obtaining Green Lab Certification

Duke Green Lab Certification is awarded based on completion of a checklist of items. The checklist is available here and is accompanied by this resource guide to implementation. There are three levels of certification, Bronze, Silver and Gold. Bronze may be achieved for completing at least the prerequisite items on the checklist. The Silver level requires that the prerequisite items be completed plus 50% of applicable points in other areas. The Gold level requires the prerequisite items plus 90% of applicable points from other areas. Labs must be recertified on an annual basis.

Certified labs will receive signage to place on their door and an image to post to their lab website. In addition they will receive recognition from the University for their achievement.

If you have questions about the Green Lab Certification, contact Green Labs at Duke.


Green Lab funding is available through the Green Grant Fund.  For lab staff working to achieve the Duke Green Lab Certification, Sustainable Duke seeks to provide financial support for energy and water efficient equipment, as well as smaller items to make the lab a greener workplace.  For instance, funding could support an energy-saving retrofit of freezer gaskets and seals.  For the purchase of new equipment, funding can support the incremental increase in cost for models that save energy and water.  Lab staff can also apply for small items to make the workplace greener, such as reusable water bottles or coffee mugs for lab staff.  If you are not sure whether your project is a good candidate for funding, e-mail sustainability@duke.edu.

Download the Green Lab funding application.

The Green Lab Certification Program was jointly developed by Sustainable Duke and Green Labs at Duke. We would like to recognize the work of the Office of Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability of University of California – Davis, LabRats of the University of California - Santa Barbara, Higher Education Environmental Performance Improvement of the UK and Yale University Office of Sustainability for inspiration and some of the content of this certification program.