Laboratories are the most energy-intensive buildings at UChicago, and fume hoods are one of the primary drivers of that energy use. When open, a single fume hood can consume as much energy as 3.5 homes. To save energy and stay safe, fume hood sashes should only be opened to set up or modify an experiment. The UChicago “Shut the Sash” campaign aims to motivate sash closure when fume hoods are not in use to save the energy within labs. The campaign began in Searle Chemistry Laboratory in 2017 and has yielded significant positive impacts. UChicago Facilities Services, in partnership with the Physical Sciences Division and Environmental Frontiers, is expanding the Shut the Sash program throughout the rest of campus. The competition component will be starting in Gordon Center for Integrative Sciences and Searle Chemistry Laboratories spring quarter of 2022.

How it works

Using the building automation systems, real-time fume hood sash position is recorded every 15 minutes. The data is then aggregated for each fume hood on a monthly basis. Monthly feedback including graphs of sash data for each lab is distributed to department heads.

All fume hoods under each PI are considered as a group. Every quarter, the lab groups that display the following traits will win donuts and a certificate of achievement:

  1. Lowest average sash position
  2. Greatest percent reduction from their baseline data (baseline data is the average of data collected from November 2021 through February 2022)
  3. Consistent good sash closing habits

What you can do

Shut the sash on your fume hood whenever you walk away from it, and remind fellow lab users to do the same.

Email the Office of Sustainability at with any questions.

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