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NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

NIH Labs Win 2020 International Freezer Challenge Award

A ULT freezer

A ULT freezer

The International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL) hosts an annual freezer challenge ( in which 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. 

Four NIH labs competed in the 2020 I2SL Freezer Challenge. Through their combined efforts, NIH won the challenge in the government organization category. Also, the NCI Laboratory of Cell Biology, led by NIH deputy director for intramural research Dr. Michael Gottesman, won the challenge in the individual government laboratory category.

The other three labs that participated are: NCI Laboratory of Human Carcinogenesis, NHGRI reproductive cancer genetics section and NIDDK genetics and metabolism section, within the Liver Disease Branch.

A few of the notable initiatives they completed include: discarded 18,356 1.5-ml samples; retired 12 freezers; and changed the temperature setting from (-80°C) to (-70°C) on 21 ultra-low temperature (ULT) freezers. Their combined efforts will save NIH an estimated 134,681 kWh/year, $14,815/year and 56.6 MTCO2e greenhouse gas emissions/year.  

More information is detailed in the 2020 Freezer Challenge results page at

To sign up for the 2021 freezer challenge, visit

large group shot of NCI Laboratory of Cell Biology members

The NCI Laboratory of Cell Biology, led by Dr. Michael Gottesman (c), won a prize in the freezer challenge.

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