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In this issue:
Biodegradable Café
Work Planning and Control: "Green" Work Release Procedure Updated
Green Computers Land Bronze Award in Electronics Challenge
Colloquium Today: Precision Measurement in Biology

SLAC Today

Monday - April 13, 2009

(Photo - Potatoware forks)
(Photo by Brad Plummer.)

Biodegradable Café

At SLAC's Linear Café, a potato doesn't just go on your fork. It is your fork.

The cafeteria began a green initiative about five months ago, abandoning traditional plastic spoons and plates in favor of biodegradable counterparts. Nearly everything used to serve food is made of paper, sugar cane fiber or corn, including plates to soufflé cups to takeout boxes. The garbage can by the door was joined by an equally large compost receptacle. Plasticware gave way to TaterWare, a set of bendy, beige forks, spoons and knives. (They're not edible, but they will take an imprint of your teeth if you bite them, and soften if left too long in hot soup.)

Even the garbage bags are compostable, says deputy manager Pablo Barron. Every day, piles of plates and leftover food that would normally be relegated to the trash find their way to the compost bin. "We never waste anything," Barron says.

It's not always easy being green. Customers sometimes use the garbage and compost bins interchangeably, jeopardizing the entire operation. "If we put one piece of plastic in the compost, the entire load may be rejected by the compost facility," Barron said.

Soon, this problem might be solved by getting rid of the garbage can altogether. Manager Robin Martinez estimates that 75 percent of the café's products are compostable now, but she hopes to go entirely green in two to three months. The only things left that won't decompose are straws, plastic food wrappers, waxed red-and-white beverage cups, plastic hexagonal salad containers and hot-beverage and soup cups with lids, which are coated with a glossy lining. Martinez said she tried to recycle these items by giving them to another cafeteria but "no one would take them. They're all going green, too."

Work Planning and Control: "Green" Work Release Procedure Updated

Your feedback drives process improvement in Work Planning and Control.

Based on input from several people in the field, the procedure to have green-category work released in non-office areas has been updated to better meet the intent of allowing green work to take place without compromising safety or operations. As is currently the case, departments and divisions have the authority to establish more stringent access requirements for green work. The aim is a good balance between managing risk and controlling access.

Green work is released in non-office type areas as as detailed on the WPC Green Activities page.

Please visit the WPC Web site additional information, forms, directorate WPC liaisons and helpful links.

Green Computers Land Bronze Award in Electronics Challenge

A year of buying greener computers won SLAC a bronze-level award in the annual Federal Electronics Challenge, an initiative to promote environmentally-conscious purchasing, use and disposal of common office electronics by U.S. government agencies and facilities. SLAC earned kudos for buying only computers and monitors registered with the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, or EPEAT, which certifies products that have a reduced environmental impact.

The work leading to the award was a group effort by Micki DeCamara, SLAC's environmental management system coordinator, Teri Church from Scientific Computing and Computing Services, Leslie Normandin from Property Control, Yolanda Pilastro from Waste Management, and Pamela Wright-Brunache from Purchasing. DeCamara said Church, who handles the lab's computer purchases, was especially instrumental in earning the award.

"It’s particularly nice to have people like Teri and the others in our working group rewarded for the work they are doing behind the scenes to help reduce our environmental impact," DeCamara said.

DeCamara added that this year Scientific Computing and Computing Services will begin a pilot rollout of BigFix, a software tool for managing patching and power conservation. "These types of efforts keep us moving in the right direction," she said.

A member of SLAC's Environmental Protection Department will accept the award on behalf of the lab at a ceremony in early June, held during the Federal Environmental Symposium West in Seattle.

Colloquium Today:
Precision Measurement in Biology

(Image - SLAC Colloquium banner)

Is biology a quantitative science like physics? Today at 4:15 in Panofsky Auditorium, Stanford Professor Stephen Quake will discuss the role of precision measurement in both physics and biology, and argue that in fact both fields can be tied together by the use and consequences of precision measurement.

Stephen Quake is a Lee Otterson Professor of Bioengineering (and of Applied Physics, by courtesy) at Stanford University. His interests lie at the nexus of physics, biology and biotechnology. His group pioneered the development of Microfluidic Large Scale Integration, demonstrating the first integrated microfluidic devices with thousands of mechanical valves. This technology is helping to pave the way for large scale automation of biology at the nanoliter scale, and he and his students have been exploring applications of "lab on a chip" technology in functional genomics, genetic analysis and structural biology.

The colloquium is free and open to all. See the colloquium Web page for a full abstract and more details.

Next Week: Unique Thermoelectrics

In next Monday's colloquium, Stanford Assistant Professor of Materials Science & Engineering Nicholas Melosh will present "Unique Thermoelectrics."

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