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SLAC's Efforts in Sustainability

(Photo - SLAC wildflowers)Environmental protection programs have been in place at SLAC since the early 1980s. These programs have classically focused on the protection of our air, land and water through improvements in chemical waste storage, handling and disposal, and the remediation of legacy spills. Work is now accelerating quickly under the broader umbrella of sustainability.

SLAC's efforts are further encouraged by Executive Order 13423–Strengthening Federal Environment, Energy and Transportation Management, signed by the President on January 24, 2007, which requires federal agencies to meet a number of sustainable goals in the areas of fleet operation, energy efficiency, renewable energy, water consumption, electronics stewardship, "green" purchasing, sustainable construction and continued reduction of toxic chemicals and waste (read a summary of the Executive Order requirements here).

The Department of Energy (DOE) is working on a number of initiatives and DOE Order revisions to ensure implementation of the Executive Order requirements throughout the agency. Although DOE Order revisions are not yet finalized, SLAC is already moving forward with a number of sustainability programs and goal setting this fiscal year through our Environmental Management System process.

SLAC's past energy conservation upgrades have saved the site over 4.4 million KW hours of electricity per year. That's the equivalent of more than 3,400 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions (equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions of more than 620 vehicles). These projects include lighting upgrades, environmental control refinements, HVAC system replacements and infrastructure support upgrades. Currently, an energy service company is conducting an evaluation of SLAC's energy use in order to identify significant potential energy and water savings measures. These energy conservation measures will be presented to SLAC later this month for consideration.

The Executive Order requires fleet petroleum reductions by 2% annually through 2015, and requires increasing the use of non-petroleum-based fuel by 10% annually. To meet these goals, SLAC's onsite gasoline fuel station is planned to be converted to E85, an ethanol-based fuel. The GSA vehicles being purchased over the last several years at SLAC are compatible to operate on both gasoline and ethanol, but have not been able to run on ethanol due to the lack of local availability of the fuel. This, combined with the current initiative to reduce the number of GSA vehicles will aid in meeting our petroleum reduction goals.

Last year, 80% of SLAC’s paper and paper products and 92% of concrete purchases contained recycled content materials. The Purchasing Department is working with buyers and suppliers to increase purchasing of all environmentally preferred products including bio-based and recycled content products, Energy Star electronics, WaterSense-labeled products and Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT)-registered computers and monitors.

Last year, SLAC recycled 56% of its municipal solid waste. To add further reductions, there are plans to implement a waste composting program at the cafeteria and explore other waste reduction and recycling opportunities.

As part of a chemical reduction plan, the Environment, Safety and Health division is working with chemical users to remove chemicals no longer needed. To reduce the amount of hazardous waste generated from the program, an excess chemical exchange program is being further developed where chemicals still in usable condition are advertised to SLAC's chemical user community for reuse.

For more information, contact Micki DeCamara, SLAC's Environmental Management System Coordinator.

Micki DeCamara, SLAC Today, March 19, 2008

Above image:Wildflowers on the east end of the SLAC campus. (Image courtesy of Dwight Harbaugh.)