Two groups based at NIEHS are the recipients of the 2016 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Green Champion awards for sustainability and stewardship projects. Thanks to their efforts, the NIEHS campus is safer, cleaner, and more energy efficient.
“We’re very proud of what these employees have accomplished,” said NIEHS and National Toxicology Program Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D. “That [work at the Burden’s Creek site] was really a very intensive cleanup, and these new lights not only save money, but a lot of the old lights were recycled.”
The cleanup at Burden’s Creek also set the stage for the groundbreaking April 15 of a new, secure, net-zero energy warehouse expected to open in 2017 (see story).
Located at the remote northern end of the NIEHS campus, Burden’s Creek was the site of temporary offices, housed in trailers, for NIEHS employees during construction of the main campus. The trailers also served as additional storage space, and veteran employees referred to the site as Trailer City.
The modular buildings contained potentially hazardous materials, which led to challenges in their disposal. The NIEHS project team oversaw the recycling of 65 tons of metal, 120 tons of concrete, 200 tons of construction and demolition debris, 720 fluorescent light bulbs, 12 mercury thermostats, and 12 smoke detectors, as well as the recapture of 63 pounds of Freon.
The Project Team was made up of NIEHS Office of Management employees and retired employees, including Acting Associate Director Chris Long and staffers Debra Del Corral, Christopher Hunt, Veevee Shropshire, Bill Steinmetz, Clyde Hasty, and Scott Merkle, who is now retired. Another member, Joseph Shealey, is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Research Facilities (ORF) Facilities Management Branch, based at NIEHS.
“The NIEHS Project Team used innovation and dedication to recycle the bulk of waste materials located at the site,” said the HHS announcement, which made the award under the category of Environmental Stewardship. HHS also praised the team’s extensive diligence in the face of time pressures, budget constraints, and the volatile recycling market.
Let there be light
NIEHS employees enjoy a 520-acre heavily wooded campus in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. During the day, its natural beauty and seclusion are welcome, but at night, stretches of darkness can pose a security threat, especially for people walking or jogging.
With a goal of improving lighting and conserving energy, a team from ORF that is stationed at NIEHS installed a 60 kilowatt photovoltaic system to capture solar energy and converted all exterior roadway and walkway lighting from metal halide lamps to light-emitting diode (LED) units, a brighter and more energy efficient technology. “The project resulted in a net energy savings of approximately 300,000 kilowatt hours and $18,000 in utility cost annually, as well as the recycling of approximately 300 tons of construction debris,” said the HHS announcement.
Named in the announcement, for the Energy and Fleet award category, were NIEHS-based ORF employees Kyle Hawkins, Joseph Shealey, Alison Karver, Victor Stancil, Brian Vannatten, Shawn O'Neal, and John Barbee.
Looking to future improvements to enhance pedestrian safety, on May 16, Birnbaum announced plans to install sidewalks beside campus roadways.
(Eddy Ball, Ph.D., is a contract writer for the NIEHS Office of Communications and Public Liaison.)