Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory has won a regional Federal Green Challenge award for conserving resources and saving taxpayers’ money.
The award, administered by US Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 (EPA), encourages federal agencies to lead by example in reducing the federal government’s environmental impact.
“We appreciate that the EPA has recognised Argonne’s sustainability and recycling efforts,” said Argonne Director Paul Kearns. “Much of our research focuses on the pivotal discoveries that will positively impact our communities and planet, and we’re proud that our facilities and workforce are leading the way for a cleaner environment.”
Argonne scored high across multiple areas. The laboratory was recognised for boosting the amount of stormwater captured by 16 percent through its decision to convert 3.5 acres of turf grass to prairie grasses.
It also saw a 57 percent increase in “miles not travelled” through its embrace of teleworking and reported a 285 percent increase in municipal solid waste recycling through its coordinated “disposal days,” coupled with its construction and demolition debris diversion.
Argonne also saw a 99 percent increase in EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) registered electronics purchased. EPEAT is a standard for evaluating the environmental performance of a computer, monitor, multifunction printer or TV.
Catherine N Hurley said: “It makes me really proud and excited to see the direct accomplishments of our team, people who are at the lab right now,” she said. “We are repeat winners, which is wonderful.”
Hurley said the award and its goals are very much aligned with the science conducted at the laboratory.
“As a DOE key research facility, we are constantly researching long-term environmental impacts and looking for solutions to the challenges we, as a society, face day to day,” she said. “To be able to make a local impact on the same topics is incredible. Similarly, being able to demonstrate that we can make a positive impact on a site that is just three square miles shows just how powerful these efforts can be.”
The “Disposal Days” project was an enormous success. Thirty-five buildings participated, reducing clutter and material stored in active work areas and common spaces.
Thirty metric tons of electronics were processed as a result. Disposal Days also filled 17 dumpsters of scrap metal, representing 36 metric tons of material recycled.
Not only did its removal free up space for additional research, but it also made the laboratory safer overall.
Hurley said the Federal Green Challenge award is particularly meaningful because it is data driven, reflecting actual, calculable achievements in the area of conservation.
“They look at the values year over year and give awards based on your measurable accomplishments,” she said. “There is no guesswork here.”