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NIH Record - 75th Anniversary - National Institutes of Health

NIH Labs Win 2021 International Freezer Challenge Award

Laboratory freezer kept at an ultra low temperature


The International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL) hosts an annual 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. 

Ten NIH labs competed in the 2021 I2SL Freezer Challenge. Through their combined efforts, NIH won in the government organization category. Also, the NCI Laboratory of Cell Biology won the 2020 I2SL Freezer Challenge in the individual category for labs with more than 25 people. This is the second year in a row that NIH won the international competition.

The 10 labs that participated are: NCI Laboratory of Cell Biology, NCI molecular and gene transfer section, NEI Laboratory of Immunology molecular immunology section, NHLBI Laboratory of Myeloid Malignancies, NIAID viral epidemiology and immunity unit, NIDDK genetics and metabolism section of the Liver Disease Branch, NIEHS In Vivo Neurobiology, NIEHS Comparative Medicine Branch Quality Assurance Lab, NIEHS Reproductive Medicine Group RDBL, NINDS translational neuroradiology section. NIEHS also completed a campus-wide freezer upgrade where old units were replaced with new Energy Star Certified models.

A few notable initiatives they completed include: discarded 30,096 1.5 ml samples, retired 28 freezers and refrigerators and changed the temperature setting from (-80°C) to (-70°C) on 17 ultra-low temperature freezers. 

These combined efforts will save NIH an estimated 388,884 kWh/year, $31,608/year and 262 MTCO2e greenhouse gas emissions/year. This was accomplished by 10 labs. 

To sign up for the 2022 challenge that begins on Jan. 1, visit

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