Earth Day is recognized around the world on Monday, April 22, as a day to educate people on the impact they have on the environment and to raise awareness on how to make a difference. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is committed to making positive changes through sustainability efforts. The Laboratory has implemented several key programs and has been successful in reducing waste through recycling efforts, reducing emissions and environmental impact through an electric vehicle program and raising overall awareness.
In 2018, the Department of Energy (DOE) recognized the Laboratory for two of its programs focused on sustainability.
LLNL won an “Innovative Approach to Sustainability” award for its “Fleet of Sedans Goes Electric” project. LLNL expanded its electric vehicle charging infrastructure by building multiple Level II charging stations for its growing fleet of electric vehicles. Level II charging stations charge vehicles in half the time it takes for a Level I station. New portable Level II chargers at LLNL track the amount of avoided greenhouse gas emissions and pounds of carbon dioxide saved. This additional infrastructure provides more employees the opportunity to charge electric vehicles at work and reduces greenhouse gas emissions associated with employee commuting.
LLNL, along with Sandia National Laboratories/California, was also recognized with an honorable mention from DOE for collaboration in joint sustainability efforts that continue this year.
By joining forces, LLNL and Sandia work together to improve and deploy sustainability at the two laboratories. Both laboratories share their knowledge of sustainability and leverage their relationship and resources to expand sustainability opportunities, educate employees and connect with the local community. These efforts have proven successful in the past and will therefore continue.
The cornerstone of the collaboration and outreach is the Sandia-dedicated event pad, constructed several years ago to provide a permanent location for events that promote community partnerships, employee health and environmental sustainability. The pad allows the two laboratories to host multiple events together that are open to all employees from both sites as well as the public. The location provides easy access for vendors and allows employees from both labs to walk, bike or shuttle to events.
Events include a monthly farmers market from May to September, where employees can purchase fresh produce and other items from local vendors, engage with colleagues and learn about highlighted environmental and health topics. This year, in addition to the market at Sandia (on the fourth Thursday of the month and open to the public), LLNL and the Laboratory Employee Services Association (LLESA) will offer a satellite location near the Lab’s Central Cafeteria on the fourth Tuesday of each month (LLNL and Sandia employees only).
In celebration of Earth Day, both labs work with local city and county agencies to provide information about composting, recycling and water conservation. In 2018, approximately 573 pounds of e-waste was recycled and 187 boxes of documents from 97 employees were shredded for recycling during the Earth Day event. A similar event will take place again this year with e-waste collection, local agency information booths and The Office City at Sandia event pad on Tuesday, April 23, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., highlighting the theme, “Earth Day 2019 - Protect Our Species.”
Another collaborative event is the Bike to Work and Share Your Ride event put on by LLNL, Sandia and LLESA. This event is held in conjunction with other cities in the Bay Area and helps both sites promote alternative commute options for employees. On the morning of Bike to Work Day, LLESA and volunteers from LLNL and Sandia set up an energizer station where cyclists check in and enjoy refreshments. This station is included in the overall Bay Area Bike to Work Day outreach, and in 2018 was one of 142 stations supported in the region. It is in an open area where it serves local Livermore residents, and local agencies are invited to provide transportation information.
The energizer station also provides an opportunity to gather data on the number of employees who commute by bike or ride share. Since 2016, data have been collected to track participation statistics that help LLNL and Sandia calculate greenhouse gas reductions realized through employee alternative commuting and to better direct outreach on available alternative commute options. Bike to Work Day/Share Your Ride is coming up on Thursday, May 9.
In addition, the two laboratories contract with the same local office products vendor, which allows opportunities to share product research and testing of environmentally preferable products to improve green purchasing. They also are working closely to reduce the solid waste generated at the sites and ensure compliance with an Alameda County local ordinance that will require both sites by 2020 to divert 90 percent of their solid waste from the landfill.
The two programs meet regularly to discuss challenges and solutions, and have found this collaboration to have many valuable benefits including continued progress toward sustainability goals, compliance with local ordinances and continued improvement in sustainability messaging and outreach to employees.
“While there is still work to be done, the Laboratory is making great strides in sustainability and reducing its carbon footprint,” said Heather Ottaway, LLNL’s sustainable environmental stewardship lead. “We are committed to continuous improvement and are always looking for ways to make a difference.”
For more information about sustainability efforts at LLNL, contact ottaway1 [at] llnl.gov (Ottaway) at (925) 422-5459.