Those who took the Waste Quiz during Earth Month (April) scored an average of 80%!
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
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.
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.