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2019 NIH Freezer Challenge Results

​Eight labs and one bio-repository volunteered to participate in the 2019 NIH Freezer Challenge to improve freezer management, increase freezer reliability, and reduce energy consumption. The challenge was held from January 1 to April 1 of 2019. Challenge initiatives ranged from maintenance options, like performing a freezer defrost, to laboratory best-management practices, like changing the temperature setting of Ultra-Low Temperature (ULT) freezers from -80°C to -70°C and discarding samples that are no longer needed. Simply changing the temperature setting of an Ultra-Low Temperature (ULT) freezer from -80°C to -70°C reduces energy consumption by about 20%. These results show the power each lab has to make a positive change towards protecting the environment and increasing freezer reliability. These savings are from only 9 labs; imagine what we could do if the entire NIH joined in! Participate in this year's​ Freezer Challenge to help out!

 Participation by Lab and IC

NCI​Laboratory of Human Carcinogenesis
NHGRI​Reproductive Cancer Genetics Section
NIA​Laboratory of Clinical Investigation (LCI) Clinical Core Biorepository
NIDCD​​​Section on Sensory Cell Development and Function, Kindt Lab
​NIDDK​Genetics and Metabolism Section of LDB
​NIDDK​Karen Usdin's Lab
​NIDDK​Liver Disease Branch
NINDSViral Immunology Section at Division of Neuroimmunology and Neurovirology

A summary of the energy savings, costs savings, and greenhouse gas reductions are shown in the table below.

2019 NIH Freezer Challenge Annual Savings

Challenge InitiativesNumber of Freezer Initiatives completed:Annual Savings  (kWh/year)Annual Savings  ($/year)GHG Reduction
(Metric Tons CO2/year)
Change the ULT freezer temperature setting to -70°C1841,063$4,51717
Conduct a complete ULT 
freezer defrost -80°C
Conduct a complete freezer defrost -20°C73,194$3511
Freezers Retired327,375$3,01111
Total47114,975 $12,64748

The following table shows the complete list of initiatives completed as part of this challenge.

Detailed Participation Results

​Challenge InitiativeTotal​
​Conduct a complete freezer defrost​26
​Discard samples that are no longer needed (-86°C)​11,097
​Discard samples that are no longer needed (-30°C/-40°C)652
​Transfer long-term samples to LN2 freezers​20,521
​Maintain an electronic sample inventory​106
​Barcode Samples​14
​Consolidate Samples​1,003
​Share freezer space with other researchers​91
​Retire unnecessary freezers3
​Change the ULT freezer temperature setting to -70°C​18
​Store samples at appropriate temperatures​16

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