Chill Up/Freezer Challenge 2020

UBC is participating in the International Freezer Challenge!

Join the competition for a fun way to stay up-to-date with the latest in sample management, ensure that precious samples are safe, and reduce your environmental impact in the lab.

Why join?

  • For guidance on simple actions that improve freezer performance and longevity, save energy, and reduce your lab GHG emissions
  • For a chance to be featured in Nature Magazine
  • To win prizes including an energy efficient ultra-low temperature freezer for your lab or department*
  • To help UBC meet its climate action targets and become this year’s International Freezer Challenge institutional winner

Who should join?

All labs that manage cold-storage of samples, including walk-ins, vertical, chest or under counter fridge (4°, -10°,-20°, -70°, -80+ ultra ultra cold including nitrogen storage)

  • Is your lab’s cold storage already on point? The International Freezer Challenge rewards existing best practices, enter them today!
  • Have an innovative strategy for cold storage management? Sharing it with others by submitting it in the Freezer Challenge score sheet, will help your lab stand out in the individual lab category.
  • Still have a cold storage management “to do” list, or don’t know where to start? Now is the time to get caught up, complete the tasks and enter them on your score sheet for a chance to win.

How does it work?

  1. Register at the International Freezer Challenge.
  2. Review actions outlined on the score sheet and record the ones your lab already implements.
  3. Make a plan for additional best practice actions that your lab will take in July.
  4. Complete and submit your final score sheet by August 1st.

Challenge Actions include:

Good Management Practices

  • Defrosting freezers
  • cleaning out freezers and refrigerators
  • inventorying samples
  • storing samples at high density

Temperature Tuning

  • Adjusting the set point of ultra-low temperature freezers (ULTs)
  • Storing samples at appropriate temperatures

Retirements & Upgrades*

  • Retiring old refrigeration units
  • Replacing older refrigeration units with energy-efficient units

* Did you know that Green Labs offers and rebate for energy efficient ULTs

Cutting-Edge Practices

  • Sharing refrigeration space with a colleague
  • Barcoding samples
  • Trying/adopting room-temperature sample storage

Prizes, Awards & Recognition

Compete both locally and internationally for prizes, awards and recognition.

UBC lab researchers that reduce cold-freezer storage impact, and submit their score sheets could win the follwoing prizes and awards:

  • -70 (-80 capable) Ultra-Low freezer for their department or lab
  • Tickets to UBC Botanical Garden’s “TreeWalk”
  • UBC food Services, fine dining and other food prizes
  • Feature in Nature Magazine


Why Chill Up ULT’s

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? Review this info sheet or 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.

Previous Campaigns

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.