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
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
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
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.
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 —
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
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
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
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.
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!
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 [email protected].
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!
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 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.
Two new buildings, 30 (also called Chu Hall or the Solar Energy Research Center) and 33 (also called the General Purpose Lab), opened recently and have adopted Rethink Waste quickly. Occupants have gradually moved in, and we have been installing new waste stations and signs to support waste sorting. Lab groups have set up recycling bins for their non-hazardous recyclable bottles, pipet tip boxes, etc. too. Thanks to our new neighbors who are enthusiastically joining the cause!
The SBL team, including our summer intern and Facilities’ Controls Engineer, attended the annual California Higher Education Sustainability Conference. John, Deirdre, and Erin each presented and participated on panels to discuss EV Charging, energy data management, and waste diversion. We always enjoy catching up with our knowledgeable and enthusiastic sustainability colleagues from higher education campuses, who share lessons and success stories that translate well to our Federal site.
The 2015 summer BBQ for the interns and mentors was a successful zero waste event. Thank you to Joe Crippen for working closely with the caterer to provide compostable and recyclable materials. The Workforce Development and Education department continues to demonstrate their commitment to zero waste. Thank you!
We were pleased to read and hear several news pieces about recycling in mainstream media (Washington Post, Marketplace, Diane Rehm interview). Recycling contamination, lightweighting, and global commodity markets have hurt the recycling industry. Recycling is still the cheaper disposal option, compared to landfilling waste, AND recycling can create stronger US-based, closed-loop supply chains. Do you have questions about what to recycle? Check out this infographic, and you can always email questions to [email protected].
In honor of Earth Day, a group of volunteers and SBL helped ESD researchers set up a gardening and composting study aiming to better understand the nutrient ratios in compost and how the ratio influences plant growth. We weeded garden pods and planted tomato and snow pea seedlings and tomato, chile, carrot, corn, sunflower, and cucumber seeds. We also set up a compost pile with pre-consumer food scraps from the cafeteria (thank you, Epicurean!). Volunteers will help tend the plants and compost piles. Thank you to Facilities and EHS for helping to set up the site.
A group of volunteers trekked to Golden Bear Transfer Station in Richmond, CA to sort and weigh Berkeley Lab’s landfill waste collected over one week. The total load weighed 3.9 tons. We saw a lot of block styrofoam and plastic film, which we expected. But we also saw (and smelled!) a lot of food waste and paper towels, which should go into the compost bins. One of the lessons we learned was that people are still putting food waste into their office bins, which then goes to the landfill. Remember to take food waste and compostable items to waste stations. Erin is always looking for volunteers to help educate peers and set up laboratory recycling, so email [email protected] if you’re interested.
We have finished setting up Rethink Waste in buildings on the main site after 2 years of gradual roll-out. Rethink Waste brings new waste bins and signs to buildings to help occupants easily sort their waste into compost, recycling, and landfill waste bins. It also changes workspace waste service to help custodians prevent repetitive-motion injuries. Behind buildings, our hauler has also added compost carts in dumpster areas to increase the capacity of compost collection. This will result in higher waste diversion rates across the site. Hooray!
Sustainable Berkeley Lab, in close coordination with the Environmental/Health/Safety and Facilities Divisions, has greatly expanded the new waste diversion program over the last several months. The new program is now in place in the 50 complex, Protective Services (48), EHS buildings (26, 75, 75B, 85), and Engineering Division buildings (46, 57, 58, 71, 71B, 77, 77A). This brings Rethink Waste to about 80% of buildings on the main site. In addition, JGI added food waste collection to their waste diversion program! Thank you SO much to Pat Thorson for his impeccable coordination of bins and orders. Thank you to all of the occupants for adapting to the new processes and sorting their waste. And thank you to Custodial Services for partnering with us to make the processes successful. Check out our recent publicity!
Thank you to Workforce Development and Education and Epicurean for achieving about 99% waste diversion at the annual Mentor and Intern BBQ. The lunch produced 5 bags (~75 lbs) of compostable material, 1 bag (~5 lbs) of recycling, and 1 handfull (<1 lb) of landfill waste. This is fantastic!
In partnership with ALS safety and operations personnel, Sustainable Berkeley Lab brought the new waste diversion program to Buildings 6, 15, 80, and 7. The waste stations around the ALS ring also include special recycling bins for aluminum recycling and copper gaskets. We are very excited to bring this program to another Berkeley Lab User Facility.
In partnership with the USPS and EHS, employees were able to drop off unwanted personal electronics for recycling at a lunchtime event. In total, nearly 100 employees on the main site and three satellite locations recycled 754 pounds of electronic waste. The USPS BlueEarth Program provides a free and convenient method to ship these items to an R2-certified (Responsible Recycler) vendor, making the process simple, secure, and free to employees. Thank you to Patrick Thorson (EHS) for planning and hosting this successful event! And remember, as employees to a Department of Energy site, this program is available to us from home any time, not just Earth Day.
Following on the success of the waste diversion pilot program at Building 74, Sustainable Berkeley Lab is expanding the waste diversion program in Material Sciences Division and Earth Sciences Division buildings. This includes buildings 2, 62, 66, 67, 84, 70, and 70A. We continue to weigh the waste coming out of these buildings and monitor the dumpsters to understand the impact of the program and determine ways to constantly improve it. Learn more about the program here.
Berkeley Lab has adopted a new policy that sets sustainability standards for new building construction. The policy was developed by a committee convened last fall by Lab Director Paul Alivisatos, with input from a larger working group. The policy is intended to drive higher performance in buildings by setting clear sustainability targets that can be easily communicated with design teams and carried through into operations. The policy is available here in the Berkeley Lab Requirements and Policies Manual. For more information contact Sustainable Berkeley Lab at [email protected].
It’s a new fiscal year, so it’s time to reflect on our achievements from FY 2013. Here is a list of our big achievements.
Berkeley Lab’s Earth Sciences Division is known for its leadership in the search for new energy resources, cleaning up the environment, and the study of climate change. Now, it has another feather in its cap: LEED Platinum status for the division’s newly renovated headquarters. It’s the highest possible rating for environmentally friendly design. A plaque conferring Platinum status from the U.S. Green Building Council, which operates the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) program, arrived this week at the Lab’s Facilities Division, which planned and managed the ambitious overhaul of Building 74 in the East Canyon section of Berkeley Lab’s hillside campus. Read the full article here.
As part of Sustainable Berkeley Lab’s (SBL) waste minimization initiative, paper towels coming from restrooms on the main site are now going to a local compost facility instead of the landfill. This collaborative effort with Facilities and EHS is an important step toward meeting federally-required targets to divert and reduce landfill waste. We will be monitoring and adjusting the program over the coming months, so feel free to e-mail [email protected] with feedback. Special thanks to the custodians who make this possible. To learn how to use fewer paper towels, check out this funny and compelling short video.
In collaboration with Facilities, EHSS, and our waste hauler, Sustainable Berkeley Lab is working to start collection of paper towels from bathrooms for composting. In preparation, we are posting signs in bathrooms reminding people to throw only paper towels into the large waste bins. Trash and recycling should be put in bins provided elsewhere. With this step, the Lab will begin diverting a substantial portion of waste material from the landfill and will provide an infrastructure to expand composting on the hill campus. We would like to thank the custodial staff for supporting this effort and doing the “heavy lifting” to help the Lab divert waste from the landfill to more productive uses. Feel free to contact [email protected] about the program.
The Lab’s Chief Sustainability Officer, John Elliott, gave an overview of priorities and initiatives for a sustainable Berkeley Lab at an i4Energy seminar on the UC Berkeley campus. A video of the talk (45 minutes) is available at: http://youtu.be/NByRfy7dmE4
During Berkeley Lab’s Daughters and Sons to Work Day, the 112 visiting students and 60 volunteers explored ways to reduce waste. The Lab’s Center for Science and Engineering Education hosts the annual event and partnered with Sustainable Berkeley Lab to audit all waste from lunch and divert 90% of the waste from landfills. To achieve this goal, CSEE worked with their caterer to provide compostable plates and utensils and recyclable beverage containers and provided the color-coded bins for 2 separate waste stations where people sorted their lunch waste into compost, recycling, and landfill bins. After lunch, the group of students aged 13-16 measured the waste streams, graphed the results, and discussed the issues related to waste diversion. Achieving 90% waste diversion can be relatively easy with thoughtful preparation, good bins and signs, and willing participants. We applaud CSEE for taking on this zero waste goal. More »
Sustainable Berkeley Lab, in partnership with EHSS, Custodial Services, and the Earth Sciences Division, launched a new waste diversion program in Building 74. This pilot program placed new waste diversion stations with bins for compost, paper recycling, all other recycling, and landfill waste (see photo) in common areas. Building occupants can choose the number and types of recycling or landfill bins for their workspaces, and they are encouraged to empty those bins into the waste diversion stations. Custodians empty workspace bins about once per week during the detail day, and measure the waste coming from the building. This pilot program also includes measuring and feedback mechanisms to facilitate open communication and constant improvement. The program is intended to be a model for expansion across the Berkeley Lab main site. Click here for more resources.