Student Conservators at Melbourne

2018 Sustainablity Program

Sustainability in Conservation – SiC Student Ambassador Program

Everyone loves a good meme – sustainability in action / Images by Rehan Scharenguivel

Everyone loves a good meme – sustainability in action / Images by Rehan Scharenguivel


19 May 2018

By Rehan Scharenguivel

As the world has become more aware of our environmental impacts there has been a greater push to move towards a sustainable model. The conservation course at the University of Melbourne has reflected this change, with an emphasis on sustainable practices throughout teaching and practicums. To further this knowledge, the Grimwade Centre has joined the Sustainability in Conservation Student Ambassador Program. This program connects students and their University’s to a global network to create solutions and share ideas around sustainability and conservation.

One of the major parts of this program is getting everyone involved in creating green practices around the lab. Talking to the Grimwade Centre lab manager, Dr Petronella Nel, we identified key areas where students could reduce energy consumption through little changes in everyday activities. 

Shutting the hood when working or for off-gassing greatly reduces the energy consumption of the fans. When left open a fume hood uses 3.5 x the energy of a house! Shutting it greatly reduces waste and improves its workability to protect you from toxic (and gross smelling) fumes.


Many labs are designed to use the air-conditioning system effectively by enabling the system to switch to low-power mode once the optimal environmental settings have been reached. When doors are left open it reduces the ability of the air-conditioning to control the environment effectively and, therefore, increases energy output as it's in a higher energy mode for a longer period of time.

Turning off computers is a simple way to reduce energy that is easy to forget. The computers in our lab only take a few seconds to turn on, so it’s better to turn them off again after use, especially if nobody will be using them for a while. It’s a myth that having the computer in sleep mode uses less energy than tuning it off and on again – if it's good enough for the IT crowd it's good enough for you.

These are only a few simple ideas that can be easily incorporated into your day-to-day lab life. They are easy to do and have a huge impact on energy output and waste. If you have any of your own energy saving ideas, please get in touch via email/Facebook.

Visit the  SiC Student Ambassador Program or download a Green Tips Lab Poster.