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Sustainable research, operations and community

Immersing Students in our Culture of Safety

Immersing Students in our Culture of Safety

According to the U.S Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, since 2001, more than 120 accidents have impacted university and private research labs in the U.S. The accidents have involved explosions, fires and chemical releases that led to fatalities, serious injuries and substantial property damages.

Were any such events to occur in research space on our campus, consequences could be devastating not only to individuals, but to the organization. Depending on the severity of the accident, resulting business costs could include fines, legal sanctions, recovery costs, loss of contracts and a potential shutdown, not to mention the overwhelming human tragedy that accompanies such mishaps.

When accidents at university laboratories at UCLA, Texas Tech and Dartmouth led to student and faculty injuries and deaths in recent years, PNNL's Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) took notice of the potential business risks to PNNL.

We host as many as 1,000 interns annually and their assignments are usually short-term in nature. Thus, students are not necessarily accustomed to the more rigorous health and safety regimen of a professional research setting.

To lessen the burden on PNNL mentors, while illustrating how PNNL management is keeping the Lab mission-ready, VPP set out to develop a Student Roadshow that would supplement safety training and introduce students to PNNL's safety, security and sustainability culture. The Roadshows enlist PNNL subject matter experts to instill health, safety, environmental compliance and operational excellence practices in a face-to-face, personable way with students.

For a quick glimpse, view this Video Summary (produced by 2013 PNNL intern and 2014 WSU graduate Jill Warwick).


Bye, Bye Bike Month

PNNL cycling teams lead the pack

Bye Bye Bike Month

May was the perfect month for biking, weather-wise, and ~80 enthusiasts at five PNNL sites (Richland, Sequim, Portland, Seattle and Maryland) took full advantage of it. They also received some inspiration by the Bike to Work Month Challenge, and each other.

In the federal league of the Challenge, our "Richland Rockets" team placed second out of 334 (the Dept. of Transportation beat us, go figure!). Five of our guys pedaled to work on their bicycles nearly 100% of the time. Many of them are also competing in the Road Rats—another nation-wide cycling competition.

Altogether, we logged 12,948 miles and 837 trips to place 16th out of 1,265 teams across the nation. This is a significant contribution to the overall alternative commuting measures that we will capture in the upcoming bi-annual Commuter Survey this October and then report to DOE.

If you've been thinking of changing your commute habits—you have many choices, including cycling. If you are seeing only obstacles when you think about cycling to work, there are many experienced riders standing by to help you out. Just contact the Life@PNNL Cycling Club or the Alternate Commute Coordinator for one-on-one attention.

More information on commuting options that'll reduce your carbon footprint and save you money, visit our Commuting Web Site


Sustainability Superhero: Kevin Adamson and his Scottish Ways

Kevin Adamson

Kevin Adamson says his natural tendency to save money and reuse items instead of buying new comes from his great-great grandfather's Scottish heritage—not from any government mandate.

On the home-front, Kevin converted a 100-year-old farm house from fuel oil to two geothermal open loop heat pumps (four and three tons apiece).

In the process, he improved comfort, reduced cost and got green—in the form of significant tax credits.

Kevin commutes about 25 miles each way from the farm to PNNL's Richland campus. He purchased a totaled (wrecked) hybrid car and rebuilt it (recycled car)—reducing his fuel usage and cost by approximately 35%.

We're all human—the habits we have at home we carry with us into the workplace.

As the Business Manager for Facilities & Operations, Kevin supports the Sustainability program and Sustainability Pays and has assisted with a variety of cost reductions. Additionally he has driven substantial reductions in PNNL's building lease costs.


New On-Site Occupational Medical Facility Saves Time and Money

In 2013, PNNL's onsite Occupational Medical Clinic completed its first full year of operations, recording 2,000 staff visits over that period.

Opening the on-site clinic eliminated the need for staff to leave work and travel offsite for occupational health services and medical testing. On average, walk-up service to the clinic is completed in under 30 minutes, especially when appointments are scheduled in advance.

Before the onsite clinic was available to staff, occupational health services typically required two to three hours of time away from work accounting for travel and duration of appointments.

Cumulatively, it is estimated that 3,000 hours of time away from work was eliminated for staff in 2013. It is also estimated that staff have saved more than 10,000 miles in auto travel for occupational health services during the year.


2014 Wellness Challenge

Wellness is...a walk, run, swim, climb, sail, picnic in the Park

Wellness Challenge

Join the 2014 Wellness Challenge and put your fitness to the test with wellness activities in the park and elsewhere.

Visit the Wellness Challenge website for background and a Guide to Wellness Challenge 2014. There you can sign onto the Wellness Challenge Tracker to join a team or tackle the challenge on your own.

For extra credit, earn a merit badge by sharing a Wellness-in-the-Park photo in the PNNL Well4Life Photo Album. To post in the album, send an email.

See you at the park!


Scientific Innovations for a Sustainable World

Scientific Innovations for a Sustainable World

In this episode of 90 Seconds of Discovery, PNNL research engineers Alan Zacher and Mariefel Olarte discuss how they're working to extend catalyst life so that biofuel production is possible on an industrial scale.

Fostering the Next Generation:

Robot-building Event Stimulates Families to Explore Engineering

 Fostering the Next Generation

The main challenge at the Family Engineering Training workshop and demonstration event May 3 was to build "artistic" robots with a plastic cup, motor, tongue depressor, two markers, a pink rubber eraser and masking tape that could make marks on mural paper spread on the floor.

Sponsored by the Mid-Columbia STEM Education Collaboratory, the exercise included 95 children and their families, some of whose robot creations drew multi-colored lines, concentric circles, tiny dots or feathery wisps on the paper.

 Fostering the Next Generation

Other self-guided challenges for families included building aluminum foil boats and filling them with pennies to explore buoyancy, as well as a two-story "tumbling tower" whose levels were held up by vertical cardboard tubes. The challenge was to see how many tubes could be removed without causing the levels to collapse.

The Collaboratory is a joint effort to leverage the combined strengths of co-founders PNNL, Delta High School, Southeast Washington Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform (LASER) and the Yakima Valley/Tri-Cities Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA) Center—organizations that already work with teachers, students and community members in our region to inspire and prepare students to be the next generation of scientists, engineers and innovators.