Office of Science National Labs Receive Award on Earth Day

As part of the 40th Earth Day celebration, the Department of Energy (DOE) honored achievements in the development of environmental sustainability practices and technologies with the presentation of the 2010 DOE EStar Awards. The awards and Honorable mention designations are conferred on projects that demonstrate excellence in pollution prevention and sustainable environmental stewardship.

The EStar Awards competition recognizes exemplary environmental sustainability practices across the Department. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel B. Poneman presented the recipients with the awards during an Earth Day ceremony held at the Department of Energy's Forrestal Building in Washington DC.

"Earth day is about becoming vested in the environment," began Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. "The Estar award recognizes [the projects that] help us save energy."

Dr. William Brinkman, Director of the DOE Office of Science, received a plaque for projects aimed at sustainability, reduction of waste, and energy efficiency at four of the Office of Science-stewarded DOE National Laboratories recognized during the event.

"These awards honor the inspired projects that focus on reducing greenhouse gases emissions, waste, while improving energy efficiency. I am honored to accept these awards on Earth Day on behalf of the DOE National Labs," said Dr. Brinkman.

Super computers are powerful machines that can run complex computer programs, like climate models. Unfortunately, it often takes more energy to cool these machines than to run them. Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) was honored with an EStar award for an innovative energy-saving approach to cooling Argonne's Blue Gene/P supercomputer by using the Chicago area's climate to chill the water used to cool the supercomputer for free. This project used smart cooling methods to reduce the computer's power usage, turning off unused chips and storage systems and scheduling operations to run at night, when demands on the power grid are reduced and temperatures are lower.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) was honored for two projects. The Net-Zero Energy Building reduced energy consumption from 100 to 60 MWh/yr by replacing air conditioners with efficient heat pumps and installing occupancy, temperature, and humidity sensors to reduce heating, ventilation, and air conditioning use. ORNL also received an award for accelerating environmental sustainability. The Sustainable Campus Initiative captured current sustainability efforts and projected sustainability needs 10 years into the future. Using this initiative, a lab gained 35 percent more area, but only increased energy consumption by 6 percent.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) received the award for two projects. The lab's Computational Science Facility and Biological Sciences Facility received the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification for reducing energy usage by 35 percent. This was accomplished with creative engineering and smart data storage. The laboratory also hosted the first Zero Waste Picnic. Large events are often accompanied by tremendous waste. Through careful planning, outreach, and education, PNNL recycled 87 percent of the 337 pounds of waste generated at its annual picnic. The trash requiring disposal amounted to less than 0.5 ounces per picnic participant.

Two projects also received Estar Honorable Mentions. The ChemAgain project improved inventory efficiency to reduce supply reorders thereby saving the laboratory $1.8 million in fiscal year 2009. The chemicals are available to other DOE sites and non-profit entities. Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory received honorable mention for its energy efficiency program in the Lyman Spitzer Building, the main administration building and main control room and computing center for the lab's major fusion energy experiment. The Laboratory shares its knowledge of Energy Star Portfolio Manager with a local high school working to become an Energy Star rated K-12 school.

In all, ten EStar Awards and five EStar Honorable Mentions were presented to projects funded through the Office of Science, Office of Environmental Management, Office of Fossil Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration, and the Office of Nuclear Energy. The exemplary environmental sustainability practices invoked by the projects were determined by an independent panel of non-DOE judges.

The award winning sites will be presented with a plaque for these projects at the Green Gov Conference scheduled to be held in Washington D.C. in October 2010.