Funding to improve your lab

Since August 2016 the University of Edinburgh has been offering staff and students funding to improve the sustainability of their working environments. The Sustainable Campus Fund is designed to provide funding to projects which meet certain performance criteria, including carbon saving, cost saving and payback period. Numerous individuals and departments in the College of Science and Engineering have successfully applied to the fund since its inception. In this article, we shine a spotlight on just one of these projects.

Drying oven coming out of sustainable campus fund box

David Brown, Building and Technical Manager at the School of Biological Sciences, manages operations at the Ashworth buildings. Part of the services provided by the technical team at the building includes wash-up and sterilisation services centrally provided by a team of technical staff. Until applying to the Sustainable Campus Fund, the wash-up area was excessively hot most of the time due to heat leaking out of the old inefficient drying cabinet.

Older drying cabinets resemble and are technically not much more sophisticated than a pie oven in your local high street bakery. The design incorporates single glazed doors, which often do not fit together well, and a largely uninsulated metal body. Temperature is controlled by a dial marked 1-6, which gives no indication of the actual temperatures achieved. All of this turns the drying cabinet into an inefficient radiator, contributing large amounts of unwanted heat into an already hot and steamy environment. Not only is this highly energy inefficient, but it also makes the working environment uncomfortable for those who provide this important scientific service.

It doesn’t have to be this way. David applied to the Sustainable Campus Fund for contributory funding to support the cost of purchasing a new, more efficient drying cabinet. The Genlab E3 model of drying cabinet has:

  • substantially increased insulation
  • better controlled air flow
  • significantly better controlled temperature

The heat loss into the room is massively reduced, meaning a more comfortable working environment for staff and substantially reduced the energy consumption of the drying cabinet.

The wash-up team are thrilled… The matched funds from the Sustainable Campus Fund made it significantly easier to purchase a new greener energy efficient oven and has helped keep the temperature in the Media and Waste area at a much more pleasant level for the Media staff to work in.

David BrownTechnical Manager at the School of Biological Sciences

Perhaps there is equipment in your lab/work area where a modern replacement could lead to sustainability benefits such as energy, water or waste savings? If so, get in touch to see if you too can access the Sustainable Campus Fund!

The Sustainable Campus Fund is helping the University to become Zero Carbon by 2040.

How to apply

The application process for the Sustainable Campus Fund is simple. Visit the webpage, and complete your contact details in the relevant boxes to be set up with login details for the fund application webpage. Once you have access to the application webpage you will be asked for some basic relevant details about the project which you should complete and then submit the application. This will send a draft of the application to colleagues in the Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability who will either get back in touch to gather any missing information or take your application to the next meeting of the Utilities Working Group (UWG), who review Sustainable Campus Fund applications.

Approval by the UWG takes the application to the final stage of approval by the Directors of Estates and of the Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability. The whole application process can take a couple of months, depending on how close your application is to the next UWG meeting. Applications for funding amounts under £10k (such as drying cabinets) are still taken to the UWG for screening and input, with sign off and approval by the Director of Social Responsibility and Sustainability. 

Apply for the fund


Andrew Arnott

SRS Projects Coordinator (Labs)

Contact details


  • Andrew graduated from University of Aberdeen in 2006 and spent 18 months working in an environmental management role. Moving to Edinburgh at the end of 2007 he took up a role providing energy efficiency and renewable energy advice to businesses on behalf of the Energy Saving Trust. In 2010 he spent 9 months volunteering in Malawi, setting up environmental projects. Returning to the UK in 2011 he took a role in a consultancy firm providing energy efficiency, renewable energy and resource efficiency advice to public and private sector clients.