- Learn about Electric Cars & Bikes at events in Alameda and San Francisco this Saturday, 10/1/22
- Can’t make an event? Check out EV 101 to learn more
- Learn how to charge your EV at the Lab
Whether you’re packing lunch to come to the Lab, going on a picnic, or getting takeout, consider these Sustainable Lunch Tips to avoid waste:
- Takeout ware can often be reused many times, especially meal containers with lids.
- Bring your own reusable containers for packing your lunch or bringing home leftovers.
- Bring your own water bottle and coffee/tea mug.
- Skip the straw or bring your own reusable straw.
- Take only what you need, compost the soiled ones, and keep unused ones for later use.
- Better yet, bring cloth napkins from home.
- Request no utensils especially for meal delivery at home.
- Bring your own cutlery – like those mismatched forks in your kitchen drawer.
- Request a FREE Reusable Cutlery Set and keep it handy in your office, bag, or car.
- Keep a reusable shopping bag on hand – for carrying your lunch, takeout meal, and other purchases.
- More tips for going plastic-free.
Plastic Free July is a global movement to avoid single-used plastics.
Visit the Lab’s Plastic-Free Website to learn how you can be a part of it, such as:
Earth Day is every day, but it’s commemorated on April 22nd. Check out the website earthday.lbl.gov for a compilation of interesting things to learn and do in April and beyond.
- Share Your Favorite ReUse Hacks! A fun challenge, from the creative folks in IGB (Deadline 4/19)!
- National Lab Earth Day 2022 (Fri April 22⋅5:30am – 5:30pm) K through Career activities from across DOE’s National Labs (Zoom link TBD)
- Bring Back the Natives Garden Tours (Sat/Sun April 16 & 17 / April 30 & May 1)
- Download the Earth Month Zoom Background
While rain comes and goes, California’s climate trends steadily toward drought
- You never know when (if) the next rainstorm is coming
- Winter doesn’t guarantee consistent rain
- 2000-2021 was the driest period since AD 800
- Largest accumulated soil moisture deficit since the 1500s (Nature)
- “There is Never Enough Water to Waste”
What to do?
- See these tips from Save Our Water & SFPUC
- Consider a rain barrel; use all year to water plants during dry spells
- Tips from Lab Employees —
What is the Lab doing?
- Installing & calibrating water meters, to better monitor water use, potential leaks
- Managing cooling, which is a big portion of the lab’s water use
Help advance the Lab’s climate goals by joining the Net-Zero Lab Visioning Team!
All are welcome! As part of the team, you will —
- Meet monthly with a diverse, 15-20 person team
- Explore all aspects of the Lab’s net-zero planning
- Be creative, question assumptions
- Plan a new climate future in alignment with the recent federal Executive Order (see below)
APPLY by Friday, 3/11/22. Members will be selected to maximize diversity of viewpoints and skills.
Learn More in this brief video
Federal Sustainability Executive Order 14057 (December 2021) set a firm path for decarbonizing federal sites by 2045, with many significant interim milestones. Highlights include:
- Buildings: 100% Net-zero emissions for all buildings entering design phase
- Fleet: 100% Zero emission fleet vehicle acquisitions by 2035
- Campus: 100% Net-zero emissions from campuses by 2045
- Electricity: 100% Carbon pollution-free electricity by 2050
- Procurement: Zero emissions from procurement
- Organizational Change: Engage/educate the federal workforce, incorporate climate justice
- Waste, Water, Energy: Updated targets
Learn more in this Summary
Berkeley Lab received a 2021 Energy Management Insight Award from the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM), a high-level global forum that promotes policies and programs to advance clean energy.
The award recognizes the Lab’s Energy and Water Management System (EWMS), which is certified to the global ISO 50001 standard, and is described in a case study that highlights insights, benefits, and accomplishments of the Lab’s program.
Since the Lab’s EWMS program began 5.5 years ago, the Lab has improved the energy efficiency of its operations by 26%, saved $2.17M in utility costs, and avoided 4,400 metric tons of GHG.
The Lab reports annually on sustainability performance to the Department of Energy (DOE) and University of California (UC). Highlights below.
- Energy use intensity has decreased 29% since FY 2015.
- Water use intensity is 26% below 2007 levels.
- Greenhouse gas emissions are down 60% since 2015.
- Waste diversion is at 61%.
- Efficiency savings: Efficiency improvements made over the last several years now amount to savings of:
- $1.1M / year
- 13.3 million kWh of energy / year
- 19.9 million gallons of water / year.
Even with this fall’s heavy rainfall, most of California remains in Extreme or Exceptional Drought. California reservoirs are at about half of historic levels for this time of year due to severe drought conditions that have become commonplace in California:
- The Lab received just 40% of its average precipitation in the last rain year (Oct 2020 – Sept 2021)
- Meanwhile, the Northern Sierras received a paltry 24% of “average” precipitation, the least since 1977.
- The resulting smaller Sierra snowpack is also melting too early in the season to adequately support water supply during the dry season.
You can access data from the Lab weather station, US Drought Monitor, as well as California rainfall, reservoir, and snow-pack data, on the SBL Water Page under Resources.
What can you do?
During the last major drought, the Lab saw a significant decrease in water use that was attributable to individual conservation. Here are some ways you can Waste Less Water, at home and at work:
- Find CA Rebates to upgrade fixtures and appliances.
- Convert your yard to be waterwise and use low-water native plants.
- Use a small bucket to capture and re-use “shower warm-up water” for toilets, plants, etc.
- Use a small basin in the kitchen sink to catch rinse water, and re-use for soaking pans, etc.
- Turn water off when you’re not actively using it.
- Check out more tips at CA Save Our Water, and Your Sustainability Role.
What is the Lab doing?
- The Lab is currently installing two new main site water meters near the Lawrence Hall of Science and the Strawberry Gate. This will allow us to more accurately measure our water consumption, and not be reliant on off-site metering maintained by UC Berkeley.
- At the building level, we focus water conservation on cooling towers, which represents about 65% of the Lab’s water consumption (restrooms and break rooms are less than 5%). Careful tracking of cooling tower operation helps to ensure that the periodic refresh of the towers (which involves dumping water that has gone through many tower cycles and refilling with fresh water) only occurs when necessary.
- The Lab also recently completed a feasibility study to investigate two options for water reclamation that could serve the cooling towers at NERSC, both of which require further exploration:
- reclaiming and treating on-site sewage
- using reclaimed water from off-site partners
The UC Retirement Savings Program has a new investment option: the UC Global Equity ex Fossil Fuel Fund. Its objective is to invest in domestic and international companies that do not own fossil fuel reserves or sell tobacco products. Add it to your fund lineup for a socially responsible investment.
The Lab is transitioning from gas to electric landscaping equipment, which is better for the environment, the landscaping crew, and you!
- Cleaner, safer, and better for the environment – no smelly fumes or gasoline spills
- Quieter – better for the user, and anyone nearby
- Lighter – better for ergonomics!
What’s the plan?
- The Lab currently uses electric-only hedge trimmers.
- The Lab is piloting electric blowers and weed trimmers.
- Chainsaws are used infrequently; the Lab is waiting on a good electric alternative.
- Lawnmowers aren’t really needed at the Lab, other than plant-powered goats!
- Also note that the Lab has a policy of no ongoing irrigation after an initial establishment period (See the Sustainability Policies for New Construction and Operations, and the Vegetation Management Guide).
If you maintain a yard at home, you can switch too!
- Cleaner, safer, quieter, and lighter than gas equivalents
- Available at major hardware stores; often cheaper than gas-powered
- Battery ranges are decent and continue to increase
- Your ears, nose, lungs, neighbors, and planet will thank you!
California Clean Air Day is October 6th.
We all have a role in clearing the air! One of the best things you can do is trade your gas vehicle in for an electric vehicle. It’s easier than you think.
What the Lab is doing for cleaner air:
- Submitted a California Clean Air Day Pledge, covering many of the items below
- Increasing the number of all-electric Lab fleet vehicles, currently at 33% of fleet
- Transitioning from gas-powered to all-electric landscaping equipment
- Setting high sustainability standards for new buildings to be all-electric (which began with 2015 Shyh Wang Hall (NERSC) and 2019 Integrative Genomics Building).
- Tuning existing buildings to run as efficiently as possible through Ongoing Commissioning (OCx)
- Providing support & incentives for transit, bike, carpool, and other green commute modes
- Supporting remote work, which reduces the pollution and climate impacts of commuting. (A 30% reduction in commute greenhouse gas emissions represents an approximate 4% reduction in the Lab’s overall reported greenhouse gas emissions.)
What you can do:
- Pledge Actions to support cleaner air & check out the Clean Air Day Events
- Drive less, and consider driving an electric vehicle
- Green your energy use at home, and replace gas-powered tools with electric or hand-powered
- Use natural cleaners and personal care products
- Reduce meat consumption and plant vegetables!
- Observe Spare the Air Days and Red Flag Warnings. Practice safety with vehicles, outdoor equipment, and fires.
National Drive Electric Week starts on September 25th and is a great opportunity to learn more about electric vehicles (EVs).
- Tue 9/28/2021 7pm: Learn EV Charging Basics
- Sat 10/2/2021: Register & visit the Berkeley Farmer’s Market to learn about and test drive EVs
- Sun 10/3/21: Attend Goodbye Gas, Hello EVs, a virtual event covering benefits, rebates, leasing vs buying, range & charging, makes/models, Q&A.
- Check out EV 101 to learn about models, charging, etc.
- Find out how to charge your your car at the Lab
Why you should drive an Electric Vehicle (EV) – (if you don’t already)!
- Save money!
- Although first costs may be higher, EVs are cheaper to own overall
- Charging is much cheaper per mile than gas
- Lower maintenance costs (20 moving parts compared to 2,000 for a gas car)
- Tend to last longer
- Fun, cleaner, better for the environment:
- More responsive and faster acceleration than the equivalent gas car
- No more oil changes, and no more oil stains when you park
- No more tailpipe = no more smog checks
- No more trips to the gas station
- Charge at home on a standard outlet, charge at work, or while doing errands
- Vehicle and charging options keep getting better:
- More EV options continue to hit the market
- Vehicle ranges continue to increase (over 200 miles per “fill-up” is common)
- Public charging stations keep expanding (Tesla to open their network to all EVs later this year)
In August 2021 (virtually, again), the Lab was presented two sustainability awards by the Department of Energy (DOE):
The Lab’s ongoing building commissioning (OCx) team received a Strategic Partnerships Award for its collaboration between Sustainability Berkeley Lab and Facilities to save energy and water in buildings. The OCx program:
- Focuses directly on operational efficiencies to improve building system function and performance
- Leverages the data visualization platform SkySpark to develop insights into complex building systems and enable problem diagnosis and resolution
- Learn more at ocx.lbl.gov
The Lab’s ISO 50001 (Energy & Water Management) Team received an Innovative Approach to Sustainability Award for its “best in class” program for managing energy and water across all of the Lab’s facilities and activities.
- Berkeley Lab is the currently the only National Lab certified to ISO 50001, an international energy management “gold standard”.
- The Lab’s program serves as a model for other Labs and organizations looking to conserve energy and water.
- Learn more at iso50001.lbl.gov
Both programs work in harmony to deliver substantial energy, water, and cost savings for the Lab (see graphs).
See all of the Lab’ Sustainability Awards.
2020 highlighted the importance of health, equity, and climate. The world got a crash course in remote connectivity as work, school, meetings, and conferences transitioned online. “Virtual everything” kept us safer, and also reduced our climate footprint. We can maintain these benefits if we move thoughtfully into the future of work.
Do you need that plane trip?
Instead of air travel, consider these alternatives:
- Use a virtual collaboration tool, such as Zoom
- Advocate for conferences to continue offering remote options
- Send fewer people on the trip
Why does it make a difference?
- One round trip to the east coast is equivalent to about a month of greenhouse gas emissions for the average Californian
- 10 to 15% of the Lab’s reported greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions typically result from employee air travel.
- GHG Emissions from Lab flights dropped significantly in 2020 due to COVID. Let’s keep it that way!
Learn more about the impact of travel modes in this Union of Concerned Scientists Report
One of Berkeley Lab’s key sustainability goals is to divert at least 90% of solid waste material from the landfill through recycling and composting.
In 2020, the Lab diverted 74% of solid waste. To achieve 90%, every member of the Berkeley Lab community must do their part. Custodians have been working hard throughout the pandemic to keep everyone safe; as a result, personal waste bin collection has been suspended and onsite staff need to empty their own waste bins.
The good news is, Lab waste audits show that when people sort at waste stations, waste diversion increases from 15% to 68%! As an added benefit, trips to the waste station make great ergo breaks.
Learn how the staff from IGB gave up their waste bins altogether in an effort to become the Lab’s first Zero Waste building.
To help reduce total waste, bring your own reusable food containers, cutlery, beverage containers.
Earth Month reminds us to conserve water and energy, recycle, and take care of our home planet and all of its inhabitants.
Find out ways you can celebrate and participate on the Earth Day Website.
Berkeley Lab’s energy and water management program was recently highlighted in several Department of Energy publications. A cross-functional team oversees the program, helping to ensure the Lab’s energy and water management activities are strategic, effective, and persistent.
View the articles:
Despite recent heavy precipitation in California, the majority of the state is still in drought. We’re still on track for one of driest years on record. Check out our water page for some interesting links, including:
The FY 2020 report on the Lab’s sustainability performance is available in this Summary. See highlights below.
Highlights for FY 2020 include four Sustainability Awards, and improvements over FY19 in nearly every category.
The Integrative Genomics Building (IGB) has achieved LEED Gold, and is the Lab’s seventh building to earn LEED certification for sustainable building design. Key sustainability highlights of IGB include:
- On track to use just 36% of the energy of the Walnut Creek facility it replaced. This estimate is weather-corrected, factoring in the difference in climate between the two locations.
- Using electric heat pumps rather than natural gas for space and water heating, so that greenhouse gas emissions will decline as the grid is decarbonized.
- Two electric vehicle charging stations installed as part of construction.
- IGB is the Lab’s first Zero-waste building – occupants have no personal waste bins, and an ambitious employee group is actively pursuing zero waste strategies for the building.
- The Lab’s Sustainability Standards for New Construction policy informed IGB’s design, and was in turn updated based on knowledge gained from building IGB.
Researchers from the Energy Technologies Area, in collaboration with the Lab’s Chief Sustainability Officer John Elliott, released a report on Improving Energy System Resilience at Berkeley Lab and Beyond. The report provides recommendations for resilience planning at the Lab, such as:
- moving towards a flexible microgrid, to allow parts of the Lab to island from the grid
- incorporating renewables and storage, and
- exploring a “living laboratory” model that integrates Lab research with the Lab’s resilience infrastructure improvements.
California is a drought-prone state with sparse rainfall from mid-spring to mid-fall. Compounding last winter’s below-average precipitation in Northern California, NOAA has forecast a La Niña event and continued drought conditions.
Lab Efforts to Date
- Installed new water metering to better track usage
- Established monitoring to optimize cooling tower water and avoid periodic single-pass cooling
- Established policies on water management, irrigation, low-flow fixtures, and no single-pass cooling
- Certified energy & water management practices to an international standard
- Installed low-flow restroom fixtures
How You Can Help
Individual actions add up. B90 water use is down 44%, partly through conservation.
- Turn off faucets when not actively using water.
- Notify your Facility Area Manager about leaks
- Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org if you see any single-pass cooling (cooling water running to drain)
- Send ideas for water conservation to email@example.com
Water Conservation at home
- Don’t leave water running while washing dishes, brushing teeth, etc.
- Try simple water and cost-saving tips, such as timing showers
- Qualify for rebates and get real-time notifications of water waste by installing a flowmeter
- Make your garden water-efficient
- Transform your lawn and help the environment
The Lab became officially certified to ISO 50001 in September, 2020, after a multi-year effort to strengthen its energy and water management practices.
- ISO 50001 is a voluntary, international standard for managing and improving energy performance.
- Following 50001 helps ensure the Lab’s energy and water management activities are strategic, effective, and persistent.
- The effort is led by a multidisciplinary Lab team, and coordinated closely with the EH&S Environmental Management System under ISO 14001.
- The Lab was also recognized by DOE as ISO 50001 Ready in June 2020, through a program jointly developed by DOE and Berkeley Lab’s Energy Technologies Area.
Empty Your Personal Waste Bin
Due to COVID, custodians are no longer emptying personal waste bins at the Lab Hill site. This promotes your safety and theirs by:
- minimizing unnecessary contact
- focusing their efforts on expanded cleaning protocol.
Get a Free Reusable Cutlery Set
How can you do away with frustrating disposable utensils and reduce waste? Get a free stainless cutlery set. Much studier than disposable utensils, this set comes in a handy zippered pouch. One set per person, it will be sent to your mailstop. Request yours here.
The University of California has enacted a policy to phase out single-use plastics across all of its campuses.
- Berkeley Lab is part of this goal and has been working to reduce use of single use plastics with initiatives such as distributing free reusable cutlery.
- Part of UC’s commitment to reduce waste, the policy includes phasing out plastic bags, single-use plastic food service items, and plastic bottles.
- Plastics have a significant impact on the environment during manufacturing, disposal, and even recycling, though only a small fraction, especially single-use items, are ever recycled.
Learn more about the policy.
Takeaways from an article by MIT staff member, Kim Schive, on safety of reusables in the time of COVID-19:
- COVID-19 spreads through respiratory droplets. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been no documented cases of COVID-19 that can be attributed to contact with a contaminated surface.
- Reusables are just as safe, if not safer than disposables. A “health expert statement” released at the end of June, signed by over 125 experts, agrees.
- Single-use plastics are significantly detrimental to public health and the environment from manufacturing through disposal.
- The plastics industry disproportionately impacts low-income communities and/or communities of color, which are the very populations being disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
Bring back your reusable mugs, bags, and containers!
- When in doubt, ask the store ahead of time.
- For additional info on reusable bags, see Stop Waste’s FAQ.
- If you’d like your own reusable cutlery set, fill out this Google Form and we’ll send one to your Mail Stop (while supplies last).
As we continue to practice good personal hygiene, it’s important to differentiate between what is effective and backed by scientific facts, and what some people call “Hygiene Theater” – actions that make us feel safer, but don’t actually reduce risk.
The Zero Waste Team at Berkeley Lab’s Integrative Genomics Building (IGB) has been working hard to improve sustainability, including reducing the amount of waste produced by their labs.
- After establishing over 125 specialized waste stations, their diversion rate has greatly improved.
- In March, the team was recognized with a SPOT Award for their exemplary efforts to achieve zero waste goal.
- Learn more about IGB’s recycling programs and results
On August 20th, the Lab was recognized (virtually) by the Department of Energy (DOE) in three sustainability topics:
- The NERSC Efficiency Optimization Team was selected to receive an award in the Sustainable High Performance Computing (HPC)/Data Center category. More >
- The Integrative Genomics Building was selected to receive an Honorable Mention for the Outstanding Sustainability Program/Project category.
- Dale Sartor, a retired ETA Staff Engineer, was selected to receive a 2020 DOE Sustainability Award for Lifetime Achievement.
See more Sustainability Awards.
Food scraps can either be landfilled and contribute to climate change, or be composted into valuable soil for your home garden. Learn how to put them to good use with these resources:
Berkeley Lab’s Integrative Genomics Building (IGB) received the UC’s highest recognition for sustainability in new construction, a Best Practice Award for Overall Sustainable Design.
- The building is on track for LEED Gold, and to use just 36% of the energy of the facility it replaced in Walnut Creek.
- No natural gas is used for space and water heating.
- The Lab’s Sustainability Standards for New Construction policy informed the design, and was updated based on knowledge gained during implementation.
- More about IGB Sustainability >
Everyone plays a role in helping the Lab meet its sustainability goals for Energy / Climate, Waste, and Water, which are set by Federal, State, and UC policy, and reinforced in the Lab’s policy on Sustainable Operations.
What is Your Role?
- Use energy & water wisely – turn off when not in use
- Report leaks and potential energy waste, and submit your improvement ideas
- Sort your waste, and make sure you know where to throw by visiting the Waste Guide
- Purchase energy- and water- efficient products
- Learn more about your role and submitting feedback >
How is the Lab Doing?
- The Lab’s natural gas consumption has gone down 20% since 2015.
- The Lab is getting more energy efficient – with energy use intensity down 21% since 2015.
- This progress is the result of a lot of hard work tuning up buildings, supported by the Lab’s energy and water management policies and practices, aligned with the ISO 50001 international energy management standard.
- See more data >
Yes, you can reduce single-use (disposable) plastic – even now!
Check out the Lab’s Plastic Free July Website! Highlights include:
- Take the Challenge, for Plastic Free July and join a global movement to be part of the solution
- Download this Checklist of easy actions for reducing single-use plastics
- Participate in Events (see below, more to come)
- Visit the Waste Guide and know where to throw
- Learn to BYO* in a COVID World
- When in doubt – ASK if you can use your own items!
- Most stores allow you to return items to your cart at the cashier, then bag in your reusable bags once outside
- In Berkeley you can now bring your own mug / bag if you don’t place it on a surface; keep bags in your cart and bag your own items at the register. (But ask first, as some stores have more stringent practices).
- More Tips >
* BYO = Bring Your Own… coffee mug, water bottle, cutlery, shopping bag (not just for groceries – pharmacy, clothing stores, hardware, take-out, anywhere!)
Sheltering in place has encouraged many of us to spend more time at home with our nourishing yards, gardens, and plants, and composting is a great tool to help us do that!
Anyone can home compost, even in a small apartment. Learn the basics and benefits, and why it’s so important for everyone to compost food waste.
Learn more with these Compost & Gardening Resources
The June 8th webinar will cover —
- How to turn waste into natural fertilizer for your container garden or yard
- The environmental benefits of “closing the loop” at home
- Which option is right for you, and how to get started, from a a small worm bin to a large backyard yard waste pile
- +Add to Calendar
Big advancements in efficient computing are happening as a result of cross-Lab collaboration including SBL, the National Energy Scientific Research Computing Center (NERSC), and the Energy Technologies Area (ETA) and its decades of research and expertise.
The Lab has completed its Annual Sustainability Report for FY 2019. For more details, see —
Key highlights —
- Waste Diversion is at 75%
- Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions are 29% below 2008 levels
- Energy Use Intensity has decreased 14% since 2015
- Improvements in Computing Efficiency
- Four Sustainability Awards
- Power off computers, monitors, peripherals, power strips, and any equipment that does not need to be running over the break.
- Shut fume hood sashes.
- Turn off the lights.
- Close doors and windows.
- And empty perishables out of breakroom refrigerators to avoid surprises in January!
On behalf of the Better Buildings Smart Lab Accelerator, the Department of Energy selected Berkeley Lab to receive an “Accelerating Smart Labs” Project Award. The award recognizes the Lab’s innovative approach to improving its building operations through an ongoing commissioning (OCx) process.
A partnership between SBL and Facilities, the Lab’s high-performing OCx team has refined a highly efficient and rigorous process for identifying and correcting energy and water waste in buildings, and ensuring those corrections stick.
The award was presented at the annual International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL) Conference in October.
See the Lab’s efficiency savings since 2015.
November 15th is America Recycles Day.
- Get inspired, and discover new facts and ways to recycle at the above website
- See the Lab’s progress toward 90% waste diversion by 2020
- Check out how YOUR building is doing
- Learn Your Role in contributing to the Lab’s sustainability targets
- Check out the Waste Guide to learn which bin to use for what item.
- Remember the 3 Rs — Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! Recycling is important, but reducing what you have to throw in any bin is best!
The draft Sustainable Standards for Operations policy, to be published in the Lab’s Requirements & Policies Manual (RPM), was shared with a wide Lab audience through emails, stakeholder meetings, Elements, and the SBL website. See the resulting changes in the following documents —
- A summary of the comments received and resulting changes made
- A tracked-changes version of the policy with major changes indicated
- The current version of the policy
We appreciate the time everyone took to participate in the process and provide thoughtful feedback, which helped strengthen and improve the policy. See prior post for more about the Policy
The Lab was chosen for two 2019 Department of Energy Sustainability Awards
1) Pat Thorson, who retired from the Lab earlier this year, received a Lifetime Achievement Award as a Sustainable Champion. Pat’s hard work, commitment, and dedication to sustainability spanned his 28-year Lab career. He led the Lab’s Environmental Management System and meteorological monitoring, initiated the Lab’s waste diversion program, and was instrumental in a wide range of sustainability initiatives including air quality, wastewater treatment, electronics recycling, and commute surveys. He led by example in many ways, including being one of the Lab’s first e-bike commuters.
2) The Lab’s Policy on Sustainability Standards for New Construction was selected for the Outstanding Sustainability Project category. Learn more
The awards were presented at the DOE Energy Exchange Conference in August.
Energy and Water
- Commitment to Energy and Water Management
- Lighting Standards – LEDs & Controls
- No Ongoing, Automated Landscape Irrigation
- Water-Conserving Restroom Fixtures
- No Single-Pass Cooling
Zero Waste and Waste Reduction
- Employee Responsibility for Waste
- A Goal of Zero-Waste Events
- Standards for Food Services, Food Waste, Serviceware, and Waste Hauling
Green Cleaning & Pest Control
Join SBL on Tues, July 30th at 12pm in Pers Hall (54-130) to discuss:
- Are recyclables getting recycled or ending up in the ocean?
- How is SBL making plastic reduction easier and how can you participate?
- Tips for keeping veggies crisp without plastic bags; remembering to bring your own cup
- How you can try reusable takeout containers at the Cafeteria
- Share your experience with Plastic Free July by attending, adding thoughts to the virtual whiteboard!
- Partial Session Recording
While finding energy waste in buildings is easy, the challenge lies in understanding and correcting underlying problems, and ensuring they stay corrected. In July, the Lab received a Best Practice Award at the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference for its pioneering approach to improving how buildings operate. The Lab’s ongoing building commissioning team uses SkySpark, a sophisticated data visualization tool, as part of their innovative and highly effective process to continually identify, measure, prioritize, and address building problems, as well as monitor and maintain corrections and energy savings.
Pictured: Deirdre Carter, Chris Weyandt, Raphael Vitti (kW Engineering), John Elliott
SBL encourages you to join millions of people and take the Plastic Free July Challenge to reduce single-use plastic waste.
Ways to Participate (also on SBL calendar):
- Get an overview of the global plastic crisis – Mon 7/1 at 7pm at the Hillside Club in Berkeley
- Stop by the Cafeteria to chat with SBL about plastics, sign up to take the Challenge, and learn why the Cafeteria is switching from bioplastic — that goes to landfill — to fiber based takeout ware and cutlery (12-1:30 on Tues 7/2, Weds 7/10, Tues 7/16, and Tues 7/23)
- Share your Challenge experience on Tues 7/30 at noon in the B50 Auditorium — bring your recycling questions and learn why reducing is more important than recycling
About the Plastic Free July Challenge
Plastic Free July is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution. Visit Plastic Free July for resources and ideas for reducing single-use plastic waste in July and everyday, and Choose Your Challenge:
- Avoid takeaway items (bags, bottles, straws, and beverage cups)
- Avoid products in single-use plastic packaging
- Avoid all single-use plastics
The Lab has ambitious goals to —
- divert 90% of our waste from landfill by 2020
- cut the overall waste (generated per person in 2016) in half by 2030.
To help meet these goals, SBL has been collecting waste data since 2016 to identify opportunities for improvement. Over 100 audits have been conducted, an average three for each main building.
View the Waste Audit Data to see where your building ranks (select building from the drop down menu on the upper right hand side of the page).
The Lab has updated its Sustainability Standards for New Construction (SSNC). The SSNC were first published in the Lab’s online Requirements & Procedures Manual (RPM) in 2013. The standards have guided the sustainable design of the Lab’s new Integrative Genomics Building (IGB) and current early design efforts for future construction.
Key elements of the SSNC include:
- Energy Efficiency, Transportation, Decarbonization, and Renewables
- Waste Minimization & Water Conservation
- LEED Green Building Certification, Performance Measurement, and Reporting
Check out what you might have missed from the Lab’s April Earth Month celebration…
Sustainability @ Home Brown Bag
Experts from the Energy Technologies Area and Sustainable Berkeley Lab shared their knowledge about responsible consumption, a culture of repair, very local food, and reducing energy and water footprint.
Presentation | Recording (Quicktime)
Green Transportation Brown Bag
A presentation on what the Lab has done to improve transportation, and a discussion of thoughts, ideas, and concerns about transportation solutions.
Safety Sustainability, and Security Fair
A huge number of people visited the SBL booth at the Fair, and learned about helping the Lab meet its Zero Waste Goals by knowing how to sort. Learn more at WasteGuide.lbl.gov.
A gathering of folks who commute via eBike, and those interested. Learn more about eBikes
This April, the Earth Month Theme is Sustainable Lifestyles. You have many ways to participate!
- Download the Earth Month Flyer, post it in your area, and help spread the word.
- Check out the Lab events listed in the calendar below, click on an event title to learn more and add to your calendar.
- Participate in the DOE Earth Month Haiku & Photo Contest by Friday, April 5th.
- Join an Earth Month Cleanup near you.
Nearly half the employees at JGI gave up their under-desk trash cans in March, in support of better separation of waste at centralized stations, and the Lab’s Zero Waste goals. Over 100 bins were collected and will be recycled.
All Lab buildings have central waste stations. Learn how you can contribute by properly diverting your waste — visit the Waste Guide.
Want to take the next step and get rid of your under-desk trash can?
Bring your own mug or cup to the Peet’s stand at the cafeteria, and save 25 cents on your drink. Learn more about other ways to contribute to sustainability.
- Visit the Lab’s WasteGuide (wasteguide.lbl.gov) to learn how to contribute to the goal
- Also check out this video on keeping the waste stream clean, and learn how to make your diversion efforts count
San Franciso is diverting more than 80% of its waste. A number of other cities across the world are too, including a small Japanese city who consulted a Berkeley local to help. Read the New York Times Article.
UC / Lab employees are eligible for incentives on Electric Vehicles and Plug-in Hybrids.
- $10,000 off BMW i3 EV, as well as incentives for other BMW and Mini EVs
- $3,500 off Nissan LEAF EV
- $500 off Honda Clarity Plug-in
The Lab has completed its Annual Sustainability Report for FY 2018, and plans for FY 2019. One significant achievement is maintained, annualized energy savings totaling 6.7 million kWh since 2015. See graph.
Additional highlights —
- Greenhouse gas emissions are 15% below 2015 levels | Goal: 30% reduction by 2025
- Waste diversion is at 76% | Goal: 90% by 2020
- Water use intensity is 23% below 2007 levels | Goal: 36% by 2025
For more details, see —
Working in collaboration with SBL, Facilities upgraded lighting in the two garages under Building 50, resulting in:
1) Better, brighter, and more well-distributed lighting
The existing lighting was recessed in low ceilings, and even at 200 watts, the high-pressure sodium fixtures gave off a dim, uneven, and unsettling orange glow. The new LED lighting has significantly improved atmosphere and visibility in the garages.
2) Energy reduction of 95% (54,700 -> 2,500 kWh/year)
The new lights are 33-watt LEDs with motion sensors, and were installed just below ceiling level, providing better lighting while meeting clearance requirements. The fixtures were adjusted to an appropriate light level, per industry best practice, further conserving energy. Finally, each fixture dims even further until it senses motion nearby, providing additional savings.
LED bulbs can save you money too, especially if you’re swapping out incandescents. LEDs last much longer, use far less energy, produce high-quality light, and are available in a full range of colors, shapes, and styles. As a Berkeley Lab / UC employee or alum, you can get a discount on high-quality LEDs. See article below for more information.
B50 Garages Before & After
Wasting food hurts your wallet. It also hurts the environment, from the wasted energy, water, and other resources required to produce it, and increased greenhouse gas emissions when it reaches the landfill. Composting is important, but avoiding wasted food is even better. Save money and avoid food waste this Thanksgiving, and year round.
- Learn tips for properly estimating meal size, making use of the freezer, and understanding dates labels in this Zero-Waste article
- See Zero Waste Resources for the City of Berkeley
Part of the Million Lamp Challenge, UC employees, retirees, students, and alumni can now save big on purchasing high-quality LED lights for the home. Please see the details for more.
Learn about Food Waste in The Compost Story Video
April is Earth Month – What’s Happening?
- Learn environmental tips from a panel of Lab researchers (+Add)
- Hear about the fascinating natural history of the Lab (+Add)
- See WASTED! and get inspired by delicious ways to tackle food waste (+Add)
- Experience the Safety, Security, & Sustainability Fair (+Add)
- Discover a great way to commute at the eBike Meetup (+Add)
Participate in the DOE Earth Month Photo Contest by 4/6 More >
Packaging, including for takeout food, is a huge part of the waste stream! Check out the UC Climate Lab video to learn about reducing packaging and take-out trash.
Check out the Lab’s Site Sustainability Plan (SSP), which details the Lab’s sustainability performance in FY17, as well as plans for FY18.
- Greenhouse gas emissions from electricity and natural gas are 27% below 2008 levels (see chart).
- Total greenhouse gas emissions are 33% below 2008 levels (see chart).
- Energy use intensity is 7% below 2015 levels.
- Waste diversion is at 73% (see chart).
- Water use intensity is 6% below 2007 levels (see chart), but this performance – due to a temporary operational problem – is expected to return closer to last year’s performance of 34% below baseline.
With help from Sustainable Berkeley Lab and a sophisticated monitoring system, JGI is saving significant energy while providing a more reliable freezer storage system for research samples. Their efforts were recognized in the North American Freezer Challenge. Learn more
While supplies last, UC employees are eligible for a steep discount on a Nissan Leaf through December, and a small discount on Ford electric vehicles through October. For more information on employee offers for electric vehicles and renewable energy, view this list.
Check out the Lab’s Sustainability Update to UC on this year’s accomplishments in Climate, Waste, and Water including:
- Dedicated team for energy management
- Big water and energy savings in high-performance computing
- More EV charging capacity
- Improvements in waste metrics
- Efficient restroom fixtures
UC employees are still eligible for a steep discount on a Nissan Leaf, and a small discount on Ford EVs.
PG&E is still offering a $500 Rebate for a wide range of EV/Clean Fuel Vehicle owners.
Check out what you might have missed from the Lab’s April Earth Month celebration, including
UC presents Climate Lab, a six-part video series on climate change, featuring UCLA visiting researcher M. Sanjayan, and researchers and experts from the UC community.
The videos explore surprising ways to change how we think and act about climate change, including lifestyle choices and groundbreaking work on mitigation.
UC campuses are leading cutting edge research on climate impacts, and the UC system has an ongoing commitment to achieve carbon neutrality in operations by 2025.
Explore food sustainability through a traveling art show. Learn about the Lab’s energy use through new online data systems. Learn about special moments in the natural history of the Lab. Stop by the Safety, Security, & Sustainability Fair. Participate in Earth Month! Subscribe to the Sustainable Berkeley Lab calendar or see details below!
Shyh Wang Hall (B59) is the Lab’s sixth building to earn LEED certification, and has achieved LEED Gold. The Lab has one LEED Platinum and five LEED Gold certifications. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a prominent green building certification that rates a building’s sustainability aspects, including indoor environmental quality and the efficient use of water, energy, and materials.
Recent restroom retrofits at the Lab are saving over half a million gallons of water annually. Sustainable Berkeley Lab partnered with Facilities to replace urinals and install dual-flush toilet handles in the highest used restrooms across the hill campus.
In addition, all of the old fixtures were diverted from landfill — with 2098 lbs of porcelain converted into road aggregate, and 258 lbs of metal recycled through the Lab’s normal salvage process.
This effort was made possible by support from DOE’s Sustainability Performance Office, and aligns with the Lab’s goal to reduce water use intensity 36% by 2025.
For a limited time, Berkeley Lab employees are eligible for a steep $10,000 discount on a Nissan Leaf, in addition to other federal and state rebates. Offer ends 3/31/2017 or while supplies last. Learn more >
SBL’s 2016 Refrigerator Replacement Project has verified that its new refrigerators use 70% less energy on average.
- Surpassed expectations of 50% savings
- Cut total break room refrigerator energy use on the Hill by ~25%
- Replaced ~50 old and inefficient break room refrigerators (more than a quarter of the total)
- Verified energy savings through energy metering of both the old and new fridge
- Reduced the usage of harmful refrigerants
- Was supported by the UC’s Carbon Neutrality Initiative Student Fellowship Program
- Supports Lab sustainability goals
Your refrigerator is one of the biggest energy-using appliances. Save money and energy by upgrading your old refrigerator — see the Refrigerator Purchasing Guide.
Check out the Lab’s Site Sustainability Plan (SSP) for fiscal year 2017, detailing sustainability performance in FY16, and plans for FY17. The plan covers more than 30 sustainability goals.
For more details, see:
Brie Fulton joined the Sustainable Berkeley Lab team as the new Sustainability Program Manager. She leads the development and implementation of the Lab’s waste diversion activities, as well as supporting other sustainability objectives such as climate and water conservation goals and increasing sustainable purchasing. See Brie’s full bio on the Lab Directorate Staff page. Welcome, Brie!
We’re replacing the Lab’s old, inefficient, break room refrigerators with new models that use half the energy. This project supports the Lab’s effort to meet the Federal goal of reducing greenhouse gases 50% by 2025. Learn more about the project.
Have an old refrigerator at home? Save money and energy by upgrading to a new Energy Star certified refrigerator. For more guidance on choosing a new refrigerator, for the Lab or home, see the Refrigerator Purchasing Guide.
Chu Hall has earned LEED Gold certification, joining four other LEED-certified buildings at the Lab. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a prominent green building certification that rates a building’s sustainability aspects, including indoor environmental quality and the efficient use of water, energy, and materials. See a detailed overview of Chu Hall’s LEED Profile.
The Lab now has five LEED certifications:
Get a copy of the new Waste Guide, with updated guidance on what to do with batteries, chemicals, foam peanuts, broken office furniture, etc. Visit the Berkeley Lab Cleanup website to download the new Waste Guide (pictured on the right in blue), which prints best in 11” x 17”. And please help us eradicate and replace the obsolete waste management poster (aka “Green” poster) pictured on the left! Have you seen one? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Lab is now taking delivery of clean renewable electricity from a new solar array constructed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). The 10-acre installation was dedicated in May, and represents the largest solar array in the DOE Complex. The Livermore site was chosen due to its superior location for solar. Berkeley Lab has entered a long-term agreement to purchase 20% of the power generated by the new array. While this represents a small fraction of Berkeley Lab’s energy use, it is a significant step in our commitment to renewable energy.
Installation begins in June for up to fifteen new EV charging stations. These stations are part of the Lab’s efforts to reduce its environmental footprint, and support the growing number of staff electric vehicles (EVs). The new stations should come online later in 2016, and will bring the total to twenty-four, or less than 1% of all parking spaces. All charging spaces require a permit to use, and will be designated with a sign and/or paint on the pavement.
Check out photos, videos, and other resources from the Lab’s April Earth Month celebration:
- Water Security in a Changing Climate talk by Prof Roger Bales — View the video, abstract, and speaker bio
- PG&E Panel on Energy Efficiency — View the video, slides, and speaker bios
- Safety, Security, & Sustainability Fair — More about the Fair
- Photos of Earth Month Activities
- Lab Environmental Walk — Download the map
Join an environmental walk around the Lab, learn about California’s water and energy resources, and learn what to do with your most challenging waste items. Each week of April features a themed Earth Day event (waste, water, energy, safety). Check out the Earth Month calendar below, and participate!
The statewide drought continues, but rain or shine, conserving water is always the right choice in California’s dry climate. This season’s precipitation is falling short of expectations given the El Niño conditions, and after five years of below normal rainfall, California’s reservoirs remain low. It will take several years of above-average rainfall to end the drought.
The Lab has embraced the challenge to reduce baseline water use, and implemented the following actions: 1) discontinued all automated landscape irrigation, 2) installed aerators in restroom faucets across the main site, 3) placed “leak reporting” stickers in main-site bathrooms, 4) established water-use monitoring for cooling towers, 5) launched a restroom fixture retrofit program at the main site, and 6) developed a website to monitor forecasts and precipitation.
Learn what you can do at work and at home to help save this precious resource.
KQED’s Bay Curious recently explained Recology’s process to handle recycling coming from San Francisco. The piece is fun and relevant to our site. Our waste hauler uses much of the same processes to sort our recycling, so we can follow the same rules, such as recycle all rigid plastics regardless of the numbers and some food/beverage residue is fine. Check out the great video featuring Recology’s new Material Recovery Facility and the cool workers and technology sorting the recycling.
Sustainable Berkeley Lab is excited about a few new projects. In November, we started working with Facilities to upgrade the efficiency and temperature controls in Building 6 (the ALS). We are also in project design for a pilot of Daintree advanced lighting controls in Building 78, a small office space, which will allow better controllability of lighting, space conditioning, and plug loads. Lastly, we are partnering with the JGI to better understand electricity use of cold storage and benchtop equipment and learn possible controllability strategies.
For the first time we now have clear and relatively consistent climate mitigation goals established from the international to the institutional level. The United States has committed to a reduction of total greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025. The Lab is committed by executive order to a 50% reduction in electricity and natural gas emissions below 2008 levels by 2025 and a 25% reduction in transportation-related emissions over the same period.
Sustainable Berkeley Lab submitted our annual Site Sustainability Plan and Consolidated Energy Data Report to the Department of Energy. These reports summarize Berkeley Lab’s performance compared to 30 federal sustainability goals and describe plans for the next fiscal year.
Sustainable Berkeley Lab prepared a summary of sea level rise risk to Berkeley Lab. The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report estimates 0.3-1 meter global sea level rise by 2100. Although this shouldn’t affect the main site infrastructure, the estimated rise could affect some satellite facilities and local transportation and utilities infrastructure. The document is here.
Karen Salvini joined Sustainable Berkeley Lab as the Sustainability Project Manager. She will manage key energy efficiency projects and lead several employee engagement efforts. Karen formerly worked in Berkeley Lab’s Energy Technologies Area and the Office of the Chief Financial Officer. We are excited to have Karen join our team.
Governor Jerry Brown has signed California state Senate Bill 350, setting aggressive renewable energy and energy efficiency goals. SB 350 increases the renewable portfolio standard to 50% by 2030. Energy efficiency is an essential first step to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and conserve energy. SB 350 sets a goal of 50% increase in energy efficiency in existing buildings by 2030. In addition, CA air regulators approved a new policy that will reduce the amount of carbon from all transportation fuels by at least 10% by 2020. All of these goals are impressive and essential steps to achieve CA’s goal of 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050.