Since 2012, the Sustainable Berkeley Lab team has collaborated with partners site-wide to reduce the Lab’s climate, waste, and water footprint.
In the first in our Three Questions series, we asked Berkeley Lab Chief Sustainability Officer John Elliott for highlights.
Elements: What are a few of the major sustainability efforts going on at the Lab right now?
John Elliott: We’re focusing on improved building operations, zero waste, lighting retrofits, sustainable new construction, and purchasing renewable energy. We also support an ever-growing community of electric vehicle owners. We started with less than 10 EV charging permit holders in 2013 and now have more than 150. Many of our activities take place behind the scenes, but some are visible — like the green, blue, and black waste diversion stations you see in building hallways.
Elements: How are difficult tradeoffs made?
Elliott: We’re often able to find overlaps to create value for the Lab. For example, we reduced the Lab’s natural gas consumption by 10% over the last few years just by getting HVAC systems to operate correctly — without expensive retrofits. We also worked with the design team for the Integrative Genomics Building to design in energy savings without extra budget; this will lower annual utility costs by more than $600,000.
Elements: What are the most important contributions individuals can make?
Elliott: Take responsibility for your waste — first by avoiding the creation of waste and then by sorting it at a central waste station in your building. This is key for the Lab to exceed 90% diversion and reach zero waste. We need everyone’s participation to meet this goal. Visit WasteGuide.lbl.gov for tips on sorting and the “YOUR ROLE” section of our website (sbl.lbl.gov/your-role/) for more ideas.
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