Feature Stories


Ana Toepel and Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact, October 2018


Five Steps to Buying ENERGY STAR to Reduce Energy Use

Last month the University of California (UC) announced that it would expand its sustainability goals related to its pledge to become carbon neutral by 2025, including a reduction in its energy-use intensity (energy per square foot per year) by 2% each year through implementing further efficiency measures. Additionally, UC has committed to 25% of its purchases being categorized as “green spend,” which signifies purchases of products that meet certain environmental sustainability criteria. At this time, the new guidelines apply to appliances and office equipment. However, labs are also encouraged to increase green purchases to support UCSF’s goal to become carbon neutral.

You can do your part to help UCSF meet its goals by purchasing ENERGY STAR and EPEAT-certified equipment. Labs – which spend $2.5M annually on energy to run more than 1,300 ultra-low temperature (ULT) freezers – can replace old, inefficient freezers and receive a $5,000 rebate.

ENERGY STAR Shines with its Energy Savings
UC’s new Sustainable Procurement Guidelines requires UCSF to report on “green spend”, which must meet specific environmental sustainability criteria. To qualify as “green spend” electronic products must have either ENERGY STAR or EPEAT certification. ENERGY STAR is a labeling program for appliances, computers, lighting, and now laboratory-grade refrigerators and freezers, that identifies and promotes energy-efficient products. EPEAT is an ecolabel for the IT sector; EPEAT-registered products meet certain sustainability criteria for their lifecycle, from design and production to energy use and recycling.

According to EnergySage, ENERGY STAR products typically use anywhere from 10 percent to 50 percent less energy each year than a non-energy efficient equivalent, which equates to considerable energy savings. In the U.S. in 2016, ENERGY STAR products helped save approximately 400 billion kWh of electricity and associated greenhouse gas emissions reductions of 320 million metric tons. As an added bonus, replacing appliances with ENERGY STAR also reduces energy costs for years into the future.

Dean Shehu, Research Commodities Manager, UCSF Supply Chain Management, said UCSF is actively looking for energy-efficient appliances that do not sacrifice quality nor performance. Some major appliances, such as certain freezers, are energy efficient, but do not currently have the ENERGY STAR label. Shehu is working on a website resource that would inform lab managers of the best available products and proven technologies. He stressed that ENERGY STAR does not mean sacrificing performance. “Often ENERGY STAR devices are easier and less costly to maintain because they have less moving parts and are therefore more reliable,” explained Shehu.

Five Steps to Purchasing ENERGY STAR or EPEAT for your Office or Lab:

  1. Research: When you need to purchase new lab equipment, office equipment, electronics, or lighting, check the ENERGY STAR website for a list of ENERGY STAR products. Then go to BearBuy to order. For items like computers, laptops, and monitors, in addition to the requirement to meet the most recent ENERGY STAR standard, EPEAT registered products conform to environmental criteria for other aspects in addition to energy, such as toxins, materials design, and packaging. Low temperature, high performance lab grade refrigerators and freezers are now ENERGY STAR certified. Labs can also explore the list of equipment options with the My Green Lab’s ACT label, the premier eco-nutrition label for lab products.

  2. Use BearBuy Non-Catalog Form: Don’t be discouraged if your product of choice is not included in the BearBuy catalogs. Often ENERGY STAR products will require you to use a non-catalog form in BearBuy.

  3. Get a $5,000 Rebate: When labs replace an old -80C freezer with a new energy efficient, ENERGY STAR freezer, they can receive a $5,000 rebate! Find information on freezer rebates here.

  4. Win a Prize: Buy ENERGY STAR and win a prize. To be entered into the Office of Sustainability’s monthly drawing, submit your Purchase Order # as proof of purchase, a screenshot of your product on the Energy Star list, and your choice of prize to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Prizes Include: a 100 percent tree-free apple journal, a solar lantern, a glass water bottle.

  5. Celebrate ENERGY STAR Day: Consider celebrating ENERGY STAR Day on October 23 in your office or lab. This is a great opportunity to highlight the ENERGY STAR products you are already using and encourage the purchasing of ENERGY STAR when new electronics or appliances are needed. You could make signs or posters for your workspace, or send out an email blast to your team—check out the ENERGY STAR Day Toolkit for ideas.

Learn More
Saving the World One Freezer at a Time
Procurement Services
Purchaser Guidance