Jefferson Lab Aims to Up Its Environmental Game

  • Reduce Reuse Recycle - Jefferson Lab's Green Team

Jefferson Lab goes the extra mile in going and staying green

NEWPORT NEWS, VA – Kermit the frog famously lamented “It’s not easy being green,” but members of the U.S. Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility's Green Team wear it well. They’re committed to efforts that integrate energy efficient and environmentally friendly options into the lab’s operations as seamlessly as possible.

The Jefferson Lab Green Team was created through a charter in 2017 to review environmental aspects at Jefferson Lab and identify opportunities for improvement. The team is led by Scott Conley, the Environmental Program manager, and it is comprised of 13 members from departments across the lab, including the Thomas Jefferson Site Office (TJSO), the Environment, Safety & Health (ES&H) division, Facilities Management & Logistics, the Accelerator division, Procurement and the Communications Office.

“It is excellent that members of the Green Team all come from different divisions at the lab, because we each know varying aspects of Jefferson Lab and can therefore identify unique opportunities for growth and expansion,” said Aubrie Davie, a member of the Green Team.

Members of the team include Conley and Davie, as well as Bill Rainey, Ben Sherman, Keith Welch, Jennifer Williams, Barbara Rice, Harry Fanning, David Fazenbaker, Adam Stavola, Joanna Griffin, Brittany Kelly and Melissa Torres.

These diverse members serve on the Green Team to ensure Jefferson Lab is doing its best to reduce its negative impact on the environment.

“Sustainability is not a one division kind of effort. It is best accomplished by all divisions coming together as one,” Davie emphasized.

The team strives to adhere to ISO Standard 14001 requirements, DOE orders and Executive Orders, among other objectives. They have implemented a wide range of projects to advance this mission.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

For example, there is a strong focus on recycling efforts on campus. From larger materials used in experiments, to paper and plastic waste in buildings, Jefferson Lab counts it all and guarantees it ends up in the correct place.

“In 2020, the lab recycled more than 125 metric tons of materials. Further, the lab was able to divert 69% of materials from landfills, including aluminum cans, batteries, cardboard, printer cartridges, paper waste, telephone books, plastics and glass bottles,” reported Conley.

In 2021, conservation efforts increased. The lab was able to divert 74.7% of municipal solid waste, amounting to about 211.6 metric tons, from landfills. In addition, 100% of construction waste was recycled throughout the year as well, which equaled about 9.5 metric tons of waste.

In 2019, the Ultra-Pure Water (UPW) Reuse Project was implemented and continues to flourish. Discharge water from the Test Lab is reused for a cooling tower nearby. For 2021, the last year for which data is available, the project collected about 4.9 million gallons of water. On average, the project is saving the lab approximately $64,000 annually.

Shedding Load to Help Out the Grid

Running experiments at Jefferson Lab takes a considerable amount of energy. Therefore, being a conscientious energy customer is of high priority.

“I think a lot of times, we overlook our environment as our biggest resource. But without water and electricity, this place could not run,” Davie said.

Jefferson Lab is a top consumer of electrical power during CEBAF operations periods. One of the ways that the lab seeks to reduce its impact on the local electrical grid during peak usage is by participating in a program to reduce electricity grid stress. This can prevent power outages or brownouts in the area due to higher than normal periods of electrical consumption. Typically, these periods occur on hot summer days.

During events of high electric demand, the lab reduces its overall electric demand by peak-load shedding. Energy-intensive activities are briefly discontinued and excess office energy loads are reduced until notification that the demand reduction event is over. The scheduled event is based on the previous summer’s highest day and hour peak time.

Building and Buying Green

Another ongoing effort is to retrofit existing facilities with smarter, energy-saving features when available. For instance, buildings on-site are evaluated and commissioned annually to look for ways to improve energy and water efficiency.

Recently, this initiative resulted in a change to overhead lighting. Many buildings were switched from fluorescent halogen lighting to LED lighting. Halogen lighting consumes ten times more energy an hour than LED.

The GreenBuy Award Program was launched in 2010 to recognize Department of Energy sites who excel and go above and beyond in the name of sustainable products, or “green purchasing.” Green products must be purchased for a variety of uses and departments on-site to be considered for this award. These include the cafeteria, construction, custodial, electronics, grounds/landscaping, office and operations/fleet management.

Jefferson Lab has been the recipient of the gold level GreenBuy Award five times, leading to a Superior Award. When asked about this honor, Conley and Davie both agreed that much of the credit goes to Barbara Rice in Procurement and the many people across the lab who take the time and effort to ensure they consider green options in their purchasing decisions.

“Barbara’s effort comes out on top on the Green Team. She’s an absolute rock star,” Conley exclaimed.

Moving Toward Ever Greener Pastures

There are also a handful of projects that the Green Team is planning to revitalize or actively embark on soon. Just this month, the Green Team has organized an Earth Day campus cleanup. The volunteer effort will not only help beautify the campus and give back to the lab community but also benefits the surrounding communities here in Newport News.

Looking forward, the Green Team hopes to also commence a stormwater reuse project, which will allow Jefferson Lab to repurpose stormwater. It’s estimated that this project could save approximately 50 million gallons of water each year.

The team is also exploring options for procuring electronic vehicle (EV) replacements as older vehicles are rotated out of service in the lab fleet, along with the necessary EV charging infrastructure. The entity through which the lab procures government vehicles, the General Services Agency (GSA), is under executive order to move its fleet toward fully electric vehicles over the next decade.

“We also plan to investigate opportunities for photovoltaic (PV) systems on-site. These systems would decrease dependence on carbon pollution electricity and increase resilience,” said Davie.

For more information, visit the Green Team and Environmental Management System webpages and the links below.

Further Reading
Environmental Management System
Jefferson Lab Keeps it Green
FY2021 Annual Laboratory Plan
DOE Announces the FY 2021 GreenBuy/GreenSpace Award Winners
2019 Annual Site Environmental Report For Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility

By Abbey Ballance

Contact: Kandice Carter, Jefferson Lab Communications Office, kcarter@jlab.org

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Jefferson Science Associates, LLC, manages and operates the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, or Jefferson Lab, for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://energy.gov/science.