A short interview with Sarah Pelletier, director of the science laboratories at Campus Saint-Jean
Why did you apply for the model green labs project?
We started by getting Green Spaces certified and that gave us a lot of ideas. That was an inspiration. Then we had this idea for the water recycling system and that pushed us to go a bit further, so we applied to be a model green lab and we got accepted.
What are the top three sustainable features in this lab?
The water recycling system, the sustainability education that students get through practical teaching and learning in the lab, and the use of more efficient apparatuses. We're buying new instruments to replace the old ones and when we do that, we make sure that they're high-efficiency.
When the students come in, we tell them why we have the water recycling system, and then they start using it and it’s just part of their routine in this lab. We really want to make green practices and sustainability practices a routine part of their activities. This summer, we worked on a lot of experiments that we did in organic chemistry that use pretty nasty chemicals, like dichloromethane—and we removed it from a lot of experiments. So we will tell the students that these experiments have been changed to be more green.
Do you have advice for people who want to make their labs more sustainable?
It’s not hard. It may sound like something difficult, especially for science labs, where you think that we're not always green. But my advice is to first look through the Green Space certification list for labs. That’s how we realized we could do this with minimal effort at first, and that's what got us going.
Don't be scared, because it's not that hard to make your lab more sustainable.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.