Science in Service

Science is often about service: About searching, growing, sustaining. So on this Earth Day, it's appropriate to note the strides that Office of Science labs are taking in sustainability. Here's a quick look at their Earth Day observances and ongoing sustainability efforts:

Ames Lab

Ames Lab has a sustainability page:
The page details the Lab's goals, ranging from reducing paper usage, to expanding recycling, to reducing greenhouse gases by encouraging commuting by biking, walking or public transportation.

In the area of reducing greenhouse gases, Ames Lab employees are participating in the National Bike Challenge (, and the team is logging the amount of carbon dioxide biking saved because team members biked instead of drove cars. The Ames Laboratory's team is currently in fifth place in Iowa, with 19 riders logging almost 500 miles and saving nearly 400 lbs. of carbon dioxide, and the challenge has just begun.

Argonne Lab

Argonne's 2013 Earth Day event (previewed in this video) will feature the laboratory's wide-ranging sustainability initiatives as well as ongoing research on energy conservation and efficiency:
Events and activities include:

  • Argonne Garden Club seed exchange
  • Tree planting by children who attend Argonne's Child Development Center
  • Energy bike interactive display: Participants ride the energy bike to feel how much effort it takes to power an incandescent light bulb versus a compact fluorescent light bulb or a light-emitting-diode bulb.
  • Green Vehicle Corral, displaying employee-owned fuel-efficient vehicles – including hybrid, electric, diesel, E-85 vehicles and motorcycles.
  • Rain barrel display and raffle

Plus many "green energy" R&D poster presentations by Argonne researchers.
You can learn more about Argonne's GreenLab sustainability initiative at

Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL)

Earth Day 2013 is a big, lab-wide celebration at BNL. The day is packed with events, including an Earth Summit, and a host of tips and activities to encourage sustainability (see:

BNL also showcases its commitment to sustainability with its design, construction, and operation of large-scale, cutting-edge research facilities, including the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II), recently awarded a LEED Gold rating by the U.S. Green Building Council, and the just-dedicated Interdisciplinary Science Building for energy research, designed to reduce use of potable water by 55 percent and energy consumption by 37 percent.


Fermilab has a new sustainability website: It highlights the lab's sustainable work in eight areas:

  • Electronics stewardship
  • Energy and water conservation
  • Greenhouse gas reduction
  • Green purchasing
  • High-performance sustainable buildings
  • Land stewardship
  • Pollution prevention
  • Transportation

You can read more about it in a recent Fermilab Today article:

Jefferson Lab (JLab)

JLab has a substantial sustainability effort including:

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab)

Berkeley Lab has many sustainability efforts:

These and other green programs will be highlighted in a weeklong series of Earth Day events. See:

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)

ORNL's Earth Day observance is Tuesday:

That observance is part of the lab's overall sustainability initiative:

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL)

PNNL has a sustainability website:

Princeton Plasma Physics Lab (PPPL)

The Princeton Plasma Physics Lab has a strong commitment to the environment and sustainability in a wide variety of areas, including:

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Has a variety of ongoing sustainability efforts including:

The Department'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 please visit

Charles Rousseaux is a Senior Writer in the Office of Science.