P200: Strategic Procurement

The Big Chill: Get a deal on research lab ultra-low-freezers

Under the Fisher Scientific First for the UC partnership, ThermoFisher Scientific has a deal that is so hot yet so cold- a new, energy-efficient, ultralow-temperature freezer to store research samples, with a special price of $9,650 until April 30, 2016. UC Sustainability, UC Procurement, and ThermoFisher Scientific is contributing to the University of California’s Cool Campus Challenge by promoting the purchase of energy-efficient ultra-low freezers while providing removal and decommission of old freezers at no additional charge.

Many UC campuses have over 1,000 Ultra-Low Temperature (ULT) freezers. Consuming 60-80% of plug load electricity in life science labs, these freezers use as much electricity as a house. Two energy-efficient ULT models have been on the market, each using less than 9 kWh/day of energy consumption, yet it has been difficult to get campuses to replace their current units with energy-efficient ones. This is partly due to up-front freezer expenses, lack of awareness among researchers, and uneven project coordination efforts. Thanks to improved communication and cost-savings efforts by the team, there has been a surge in efficient freezer purchases across the ten campuses.

Campuses have been fantastic in their marketing efforts- sending emails and flyers to numerous departments (even the Med Centers), advertising through articles in campus newsletters and webpages, and holding promotional events like the one held in February at UC Davis. ThermoFisher was instrumental in working closely with UC Procurement to develop specialized marketing materials. The promotions have represented a true partnership between UC departments and suppliers, which we hope to replicate with future collaborations.

The ULT freezer promotion’s success thus far, proves that scientists need competitive pricing in addition to equipment reliability to truly support green research initiatives. It is imperative that employees are given the right tools and resources to meet UC’s sustainability goals. Having strong supplier support also generates excitement and emphasis. These are great lessons to apply when considering future collaborations.

Valerie Vergara

Life Sciences Commodity Manager