Earth Day team challenge: Improve sustainability at Argonne
At Argonne, Earth Day comes with a special challenge: groups of two or more employees are encouraged to put their heads together and come up with an idea for improving sustainability at the laboratory.
These ideas will be displayed at the Earth Day celebration on Thursday, April 18, 2019, and attendees will vote for their favorite. Argonne’s Sustainability Program will work with the winning team to plan and implement the idea during the next year.
Teams can submit their ideas between Monday, March 25, and Friday, April 5, by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org that addresses three questions:
- Who are the members of your team?
- What is your idea?
- How it will impact sustainability at Argonne?
The Sustainability Program will implement the winning idea by convening appropriate staff, providing funding and coordinating the activities. The idea does not have to be fully developed or planned out and team members will be included in the implementation process.
The winning idea will follow all Argonne rules for health, safety, quality and regular business operations. Implementation will aim to meet the intention of the idea but may evolve during the planning process. Ideas should not be part of funded research but can help improve infrastructure that supports research.
Ideas should address one or more aspects of the Site Sustainability Program. An Earth Day Team Challenge Checklist and Guide will be developed to help guide teams through the process.
Questions can be directed to: email@example.com or ext. 2-5658.
Q. Is there a budget or funding limit for the idea?
A. No. Depending on the idea, several existing programs and funding sources can be leveraged. Limited amounts of funding for non-allowable costs are available if the project provides impact to a sustainability goal.
Teams are also encouraged to identify ideas that focus on leveraging skills and existing resource but need coordination to help realize the impact to the laboratory.
Q. How will the top ideas be selected for voting at Earth Day?
A. Ideas will be sorted based on topic, cost and impact. Low- or no-cost ideas may be selected for implementation based on available resources. These ideas will be displayed at the Earth Day celebration separately from those available for voting. Similar idea entries will be combined and a larger group formed to be included in the implementation as needed. If a large number of idea submissions are received, the Earth Day Working Group will further sort and select the ideas for voting that reflect the diverse scope of sustainability topics within the lab. The Sustainability Program will keep an inventory of all the ideas and incorporate them into ongoing programs or future funding as appropriate.
Q. Can someone participate in more than one team?
A. Yes. The more ideas the better. A team can also suggest more than one idea.
Q. Can a project idea involve an Argonne Club, special event or informal activity?
A. Yes. Ideas that help to “green-up” activities of our clubs, events or other operational or amenities efforts are eligible. The planning phase will match up funding sources with type of expenses and ensure Argonne purchasing rules are followed.
Q. What type of ideas are eligible?
A. Ideas must help address one or more of Argonne’s sustainability goals or existing sustainability program. More information for the Site Sustainability Program is available online. Off-site projects will be recognized but not eligible for funding. See below for sample ideas.
Q. What is the timeline for announcing the winning project and implementation?
A. The winning idea will be announced on Argonne Today following the Earth Day celebration on April 18. A full list will also be posted acknowledging all of ideas and the teams that participated. All teams will also be notified via email. The time frame for implementing the idea will depend on the size and scope of the idea. The planning phase will start in June and may take several months or more to implement.
Q. How will the impacts of the project be communicated?
A. A success story will highlight the impact of the completed idea. The story will be shared on Argonne Today, the external Argonne website and the annual Site Sustainability Plan. The winning team will have the opportunity to share their success story with a display at the 2020 Earth Day celebration.
Q. Does the project have to be limited to something on the Argonne site?
Projects should focus on the U.S. Department of Energy’s goals for Argonne’s sustainability efforts, most of which are related to the impact of our operations within the site. Exceptions would include aspects that promote greener travel to the lab and while on business. The follow-up communications will recognize all ideas even if they are not eligible for funding.
Sample Project Ideas
- Upgrade lighting to LEDs or add lighting controls. Energy Star tips
- Consolidate personal appliances (e.g., mini fridges, coffee makers, printers) and create general use appliance areas.
- Conduct an energy conservation campaign, such as “Shut the Sash” using fume hood sash stickers to promote safe and efficient operation of fume hoods. Case Study
- Conduct a leak audit of your lab or building to identify leaks and create a plan to fix them.
- Eliminate bottled water or water service and install combination water fountain filling stations.
- Replace existing fixtures and equipment with ones that are water efficient. EPA WaterSense
- Establish central recycling and garbage containers and remove individual office bins.
- Green up your coffee station with reusable dishware and collect coffee grounds for composting.
- Create a recycling program for special materials that are not currently recycled.
- Implement green chemistry practices within your lab. EPA Green Chemistry
Travel and Commute
- Provide “pop-up” bike parking for large meetings or special events.
- Host information sessions on virtual working tools, telecommuting and alternate work schedules.
- Promote Ride Sharing through a commuter challenge or organized “meet-ups” for staff in your division. See Ride Sharing info on Inside Argonne.
- Switch to greener products that reduce environmental impact and save money. Green Procurement Tool
Additional case studies can be found on the Federal Energy Management Program site.