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2021 NIH Freezer Challenge

Ten labs and one IC, shown in the table below, participated in the 2021 NIH Freezer Challenge to improve freezer management, increase freezer reliability, and reduce energy consumption. 

My Green Lab and the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL) hosts an annual International Freezer Challenge where thousands of labs from private companies, universities and government organizations compete to see who can reduce the most energy consumed by the freezers in their labs. The NIH Freezer Challenge Results were submitted to the International Freezer Challenge. The NIH won the 2021 International Freezer Challenge in the government organization category. Also, the NCI Laboratory of Cell Biology won the 2021 International Freezer Challenge in the individual government laboratory category. A big congratulations to our NIH participants.

The challenge was held from January 1 to May 1 of 2021. Challenge initiatives ranged from maintenance options, such as defrosting freezers, to laboratory best-management practices, such as changing the temperature setting of Ultra-Low Temperature (ULT) freezers from -80°C to -70°C. Changing the temperature setting of an ULT freezer from -80°C to -70°C reduces the amount of work that the compressor does, which increases freezer reliability and reduces energy consumption by about 30%. 

In total, the 2021 NIH Freezer Challenge resulted in annual savings of ​396,821 kWh/year, $34,414/year and 289.99 MTCO2e greenhouse gas emissions/year.  ​the NIH These savings are from only from ten labs and one IC​​. These results show the power each lab has to increase freezer reliability while also protecting the environment. ​Imagine what we could do if the entire NIH joined in! Participate in this year's Freezer Challenge to help out!

2021 NIH Freezer Challenge Participants

NCILaboratory of Cell Biology
NCIMolecular Oncology and Gene Transfer Section
NEILaboratory of Immunology, Molecular immunology Section
NHLBILaboratory of Myeloid Malignancies
NIAIDViral Epidemiology and Immunity Unit
NIDDKGenetics and Metabolism Section of LDB
NIEHSRTP Campus Freezer Replacement Initiative
NIEHSIn Vivo Neurobiology
NIEHSComparative Medicine Branch, Quality Assurance Lab
NIEHSReproductive Medicine Group, RDBL
NINDSTranslational Neuroradiology Section


A summary of the energy savings, costs savings, and greenhouse gas reductions are shown in the table below. Visit the freezer challenge Power BI report for additional freezer challenge data.

2021 NIH Freezer Challenge Annual Savings

2021 Results -.png

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