Freezer Challenge

UMass Amherst is participating in the North American Freezer Challenge

The Challenge is an incentivized sustainability initiative designed to motivate academic laboratories to develop better freezer management programs where

  • Samples and chemicals are inventoried and organized
  • Old chemicals and samples are properly disposed
  • Freezers are defrosted
  • Intake or coils are cleaned
  • Older less energy efficient refrigeration units are retired
  • Samples stored in improved high density storage boxes
  • Small chemical bottles are stored in trays
  • Freezer temperatures increased eg -80oC to -70oC if samples can tolerate it
  • Samples are moved to warmer temperature storage eg -80oC to -20oC or room temperature
  • New freezers purchased are energy-star compliant (new energy star ratings are available for laboratory freezers)
  • Space in freezers is made available to other labs to share, reducing the number of freezer units in operation.

While this originated as a sustainability initiative and is endorsed by Sustainable UMass, there are also other benefits. The UMass Department of Environmental Health & Safety, UMass Institutional Biosafety Committee, and the Institutional Chemical Safety Committee endorses these activities as they also promote a safer work environment.  In particular, we have seen many freezers on campus that are in desperate need of defrosting to remove chemicals or samples that have become encased in ice where container integrity may be jeopardized. Freezers often are not cleaned out or organized for years increasing the risk of finding unlabeled and unknown samples. To facilitate freezer cleanouts we plan to offer a freezer loaner program where labs can borrow a freezer while they defrost their own. Labs that sign up for the Freezer Challenge will be given priority in the loaner schedule.


Anyone can sign up their lab for the freezer challenge and there is no cost to do so. Labs earn points for freezer activities and can win prizes (the UMass lab with the most freezer activities will win a pizza party). Deadline to sign up is midnight January 31st (PST) so sign up today! Activities can be done anytime from Feb 1st to May 1st 2017.

Sign up here

Information on the freezer loaner program available soon!