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Interview with Egbert Dittrich, managing director EGNATON

By February 2, 2018July 25th, 2019Environment, Sustainability

Genesis of EGNATON:

EGNATON was established November 2009 after I2SL contacted the European lab society with respect to sustainability of labs. In the early beginning we started with 18 members mainly experts from European standardization organizations. It was quite clear that we intended to engage all the different stakeholders from the lab society such as private and public client, universities, scientific institutes and science organizations, architects, planners, engineers and vendor industry.

Sustainability is a complex issue hardly developed by a single entity. We have been sure to need different skills and trades.

EGNATON is an NGO, i.e. neutral and independent. We have no focus on particular benefits of single companies but like to strengthen lab sites by increasing sustainability.

Sustainability is the balance between ecological quality, economical quality and human factors. This means a sustainable lab is profitable, takes care of environment and the users & neighborhood. These goals can be achieved only with a sustainable planning and a sustainable operation. In the labs, sustainable human factors are an inseparable part of occupational health and safety.

The Egnaton experts collaborate in different work groups and release their results from time to time.

How has EGNATON evolved over the last years?

By today we are 120 members out of 15 countries and welcome each entity who wants to join and is a part of the lab society. We have 8 active work groups. They work on different topics and just have established The EGNATON Project. This is a virtual building designed with all the results out of the work groups in order to verify the practicability.

At least four study tours a year to outstanding contemporary lab buildings are very popular. Our annual conference takes place in entire Europe and always includes interesting mottoes. The next conference will be organized in the border triangle of Germany, Belgium and the Netherland, which means we are facing a real European event. Please contact our website from time to time to be informed of the different activities and the program.

Furthermore, we work on other measures such as EGNATON CERT a sustainability certification system for lab devices; for example freezer, autoclaves, rack and cage washer or fume cupboards. We have started the program with instruments of a high input on sustainability.

Unfortunately lab design is no occupation requiring a special study or apprenticeship. EGNATON has developed a curriculum to train lab planners and educate them. This program is very well accepted.

Another topic on our agenda is digitization of information and including Building Information Modeling (BIM).

What are the criteria for EGNATON membership and what are the membership benefits

Due to variety of professions of our members, a membership is very informative. Best practice and knowledge exchange is overwhelming. Our university work group talks routinely about lessons learnt and are giving advice on any questions. Some of our planners and lab owners are facing one single chance only in their career to design a lab building from a certain type. But almost always someone in EGNATON community has the required experience and is in the position to give hints and advices.

Our network is comprehensive and is missing no area or trade. Some members coming in first time realize that there are colleagues from entities where they would never get an appointment.

The most important benefit for sure is the information what is state of the art or even beyond.

What is significance of “Sustainable laboratory Handbook” and how EGNATON expects companies to benefit from it?

This book is edited by me and primarily not a publication by EGNATON. Nevertheless many authors are out of EGNATON society. The book gives comprehensive information about lab buildings, use and operation. It represents contemporary practice and appears to be unique. Despite it was published in 2015, the performed solutions from the authors are still state of the art. European lab planners and architects use it all the time and whenever a new colleague is hired they advice to study the book.

Would you want to share EGNATON ́s achievements in the domain of sustainability of laboratories?

It would be extremely unsustainable if we would not be willing to share knowledge with others. Our attitude clearly is collaboration and transparency with respect to sustainability. There is only one world and the existential threat induced by pollution, waste and exploitation affects all human beings. Citizens of all nations expect science work on new sustainable processes and substance. If we want them to reach these goals quickly let us provide them with sustainable work places.

What is the road map for the next 10 years?

Mother earth doesn ́t give us 10 years to realize sustainability. It is already five past midnight and we need to put solutions into practice day by day. The most important tool is awareness of all stakeholders, we work on that. We want sustainable labs all over the place, in all continents and countries.

In particular there is demand in advanced training, sustainable planning, operating of labs, commissioning and air handling. Users and buyers must be assured that products they specify meet sustainable requirements and we therefore will have to implement EGNATON CERT in the market. Furthermore planning and construction time must be shortened.

Ergonomic design of labs must be improved and last but not the least we work on increasing safety and occupational health permanently.

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