Chill Up Challenge

Did you know that Ultra-Low Temperature (ULT) Freezers, operating at -80°C, use enough energy to power a single family home?

Ultra-Low Temperature freezers (ULTs) preserve millions of precious samples at UBC but are expensive, energy intensive, and require vigilant oversight.  To tackle this, UBC researchers are joining others across North America in the Chill Up movement.

By raising the set point temperature of your ULT freezer from-80°C to -70°C, you increase its lifespan, save on equipment costs, and reduce its energy consumption by up to 42%. Want to see the data, or find out what samples researchers are safely storing at -70°C? Review this info sheet. Over half of Michael Smith Laboratory researchers have set their ULTs to-70°C. Talk to your lab about adjusting your freezer set point from -80°C to -70°C.

Ready to chill up, have questions, or want to bring the challenge to your research building? Email

Already have a ULT running at -70°C or higher? Email us and we’ll get an ‘I’m Chilled Up’ freezer sticker to you!

Learn about other freezer best practices and resources.

MSL Chill Up Challenge

UBC’s Michael Smith Laboratories (MSL) was the first to take the Chill Up Challenge in March 2017.

With a participation rate of 61% MSL is now using 45,000kWh less electricity each year. This is equivalent to the energy consumed by 100 home chest freezers or four single family homes.

MSL Chill Up participants celebrated their success at a pizza party with a congratulatory speech from John Madden, Director of Sustainability & Engineering.

The MSL Chill UP Challenge was organized by UBC Sustainability & Engineering with help from Michael Smith Laboratories (shout out to Karen Reid and Dan Fayant!) and support from BC Hydro’s Energy Wise program.

LSC Chill Up Challenge

UBC Life Science Center (LSC), the largest research facility at UBC, took the challenge in January 2018.

40% of eligible ULT freezers are now set to -70°C. Through Chill Up, LSC is saving over 71,500 kWh of electricity per year, equivalent to the annual electricity consumed by seven and a half single family homes.

Jade Shiller of the Hallam Lab explains, “By chilling up our freezers, we not only reduce our carbon footprint, but we also prolong the life of our freezers. That means fewer midnight freezer emergencies, and that is a huge relief!”.

LSC Chill Up labs celebrated over ice cream with speakers from UBC Sustainability and the LSC Sustainability Leadership Team. This challenge was organized by UBC Sustainability & Engineering with help from the LSC Sustainability Leadership Team.