Greener Medical Research: Pediatrics Laboratory Honoured With Sustainability Leadership Award


By Amy Hewko

Jamie Boisvenue accepts the Sustainability Leadership Award on behalf of Jason Dyck's lab.
Jamie Boisvenue accepts the Sustainability Leadership Award on behalf of Jason Dyck’s lab.

Jason Dyck’s laboratory is a campus leader: it is the first laboratory on campus to receive a Campus Sustainability Leadership Award for its efforts to maintain environmentally friendly research practices. In November 2014, the laboratory also became the first in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry to receive Green Spaces Certification from the Office of Sustainability.

According to Dyck, much of the initiatives were led by Jamie Boisvenue, a research technician in the lab. “It’s important to factor in the impact that laboratories have on the environment and commit to conducting sustainable scientific research,” Boisvenue explains, noting he would like to see certification become mandatory. “Laboratories consume significant energy resources and produce large amounts of waste, more than any other facilities on campus each year. We must do our part in reducing the overall environmental impact by becoming green lab certified.”

To gain Green Spaces Certification, the Dyck lab had to meet criteria set out by the Office of Sustainability. According to Boisvenue, some of the changes include educating staff in green lab techniques, such as proper waste disposal free of contaminants, using high efficiency equipment that help reduce wastes generated and planning experiments together to enable sharing of reagents. One of the latest innovations is solvent recovery system that reduces chemical waste for their X-ray film developer by 75 per cent.

“These efforts, amongst others, have required a certain level of innovation and change management among our team that has altered our daily operations but now we wouldn’t have it any other way,” Boisvenue says. “We hope to raise the bar for researchers to encourage sustainable practices within their own research groups.”

Thanks in part to initiatives like the Green Spaces Program, the University of Alberta has been recognized as one of Canada’s greenest employers for the seventh year in a row. Learn more about the Green Spaces Program on the Office of Sustainability’s website or contact Emily Dietrich at 780-248-1959 or to learn more about the expanded program.

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