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SLAC Green Electronics Efforts Garner Second Federal Award

2010 DOE FEC award recipients with Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. (Photo courtesy the DOE Office of Environmental Policy and Assistance.)

For the second year in a row, a cross-lab team of volunteers has accepted the Federal Electronics Challenge to improve SLAC's "green quotient" by implementing a program to purchase more eco-friendly office electronics, keep the items in use longer and dispose of them in the most environmentally sound way possible. The team's success in meeting this challenge is evident in their second straight FEC Bronze Award. SLAC was one of 11 Department of Energy facilities to receive a 2010 FEC award for Fiscal Year 2009 activities.

"Electronic stewardship actions undertaken by these partners have helped the Federal government improve its sustainable practices when purchasing, managing and disposing of their electronics assets," according to the award Web page.

Helen Nuckolls of the Environmental Protection Department and Dave Osugi of the DOE SLAC Site Office accepted the award on behalf of SLAC at the GreenGov Symposium last week in Washington, DC. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu met with DOE recipients the following day to give his congratulations. The requirements of a program that follows thousands of items throughout their lifecycles, from purchase through obsolescence, call for involvement by groups across the lab, from the Environmental Protection Department to the Computing Division and from Purchasing to Salvage.

(Photo - FEC 2010 Bronze award plaque)
The 2010 award to SLAC. (Photo by Lori Ann White.)

Micki De Camara, also of the Environmental Protection Group, served as team lead. She determined the requirements SLAC would have to meet, which included the purchase of computers and other office electronics that follow criteria set out in the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool. These criteria are in turn based on a standard issued by the globally recognized Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. In addition, SLAC would be required to extend the equipment lifecycle from three to four years.

Next, De Camara marshaled her resources.

"I pulled together a working group," she explained, adding that, as their work involved the issue of sustainability, she had no trouble finding people for her team. "Teri Church from Computing contributed the most toward the award with her work with our desktop purchases."

Church, the Computing Division’s business services manager, characterized her role as the interface between Computing, the SLAC community, and Purchasing. Church has worked with SLAC vendors to ensure that computer purchases adhere to the EPEAT guidelines, and has established a SLAC-specific catalogue of standard equipment. She also manually validates each computer purchase and hands the information to De Camara for inclusion in the end-of-year report submitted on behalf of the lab.

Church shrugged off the time-consuming work. "I just do what I do," she said. Something else she does is work with users whose requirements are not met by the standards. "We understand that [equipment purchases] are not one-size-fits-all," Church stressed. "Something that throws a configuration out of compliance [with the criteria] is a high-end graphics card or a lot of memory," but that doesn't mean extra memory or high-end graphics cards can no longer be purchased, she noted. "We log these purchases as one-offs," or necessary exceptions.

De Camara also acknowledged the efforts of Larry Dardzinski, Sherrie Remington, Alan Kong and Pamela Wright-Brunache in Purchasing, as well as Leslie Normandin from Property Control and Yolanda Pilastro of Waste Management.

"Don't forget Micki," Nuckolls said of De Camara. "Without her SLAC would not have this award."

Nuckolls said she sees the FEC award as one of the most visible signs thus far of an expanding effort at making all Department of Energy sites—indeed, all federal government sites—more environmentally sustainable.

—Lori Ann White
SLAC Today, October 15, 2010