You are here

Participants needed: Help Illinois win the Freezer Challenge for third straight year

Posted by Madeline Barone on March 2, 2020

Hello 2020 researchers! 

After winning 1st place internationally in 2018 and 2019, lab researchers who use cold-storage at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are encouraged to register in the 2020 International Laboratory Freezer Challenge to save energy and help the campus win for a third-straight year.

Sign up HERE!

Campus efforts in more than 70 laboratories across 15 buildings earned Illinois the award last year. The total energy usage in these spaces decreased by an estimated 438 kWh/day or a combined annual total equivalent of 13.5 homes energy for one year.

Worldwide recognition

The University of Illinois research community has received international recognition from a number of organizations and media publications:

  • Lab Manager Magazine, Cold Storage March 2019 Published article with participants quoted for expert advice here

  • Nature Magazine feature published in Oct. 2018 and Sept. 2019 edition 

  • S-Labs highlights our achievements in their short-listed profiles here 

  • iSEE and Facilities & Services published news releases U of I Wins Freezer Challenge 

Labs that use ultra-ultra low temperature freezers (-150C), ultra-low temperature freezers (-80C), lab freezers (-40C to -20C), refrigerators, or cold rooms can earn points by taking action now.

For more details on how your lab can save cooling energy, visit

The Freezer Challenge takes place between December 2019 and May 2020. Individual labs self-report and estimate their energy saving on score sheets. These sheets are made available via email upon registration and are due by May 1, 2020.

Reductions were achieved due to the dedication and creativity of researchers across campus in implementing best practices for cold storage management. They received points for taking actions such as properly maintaining freezers and refrigerators, discarding old samples, and retiring unneeded units.

Campus-specific highlights from the 2018 competition and 2019 competition are available on the Illinois Freezer Challenge website

In 2019, over 400 labs representing 41 organizations around the world competed, and Illinois was named one of three organizational winners by saving 160,000 kWh/year. The Ming Lab in the Department of Plant Biology, managed by Julie Nguyen, was named an honorable mention winner in the individual lab category.

The International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL) and My Green Labs run the Freezer Challenge. Participants have already saved over 8.5 million kWh since 2017, approximately enough to offset the carbon emissions associated with driving over 15 million miles.

Past winners were announced at the I2SL conference and their accomplishments published in Nature. 


For more information on the Illinois campus achievements and competition, check out our Illinois-specific website:


Join us and submit your scoresheet by midnight on May 1st to achieve world-class results!


For help getting started contact:

Madeline Barone @


Madeline E. Barone, B.S.

Environmental Sustainability and Psychology

Energy Efficiency & Conservation Specialist | UIUC Facilities & Services

Co-Director | Eco-Olympics