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PPPL Wins Department of Energy Award For Reducing Greenhouse Gases

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has received a federal Sustainability Award for reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions 48 percent since 2008 – far exceeding the U.S. government’s
goal of a 28 percent reduction.

Members of the PPPL staff were among the 20 recipients of the Sustainability Awards in a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Sept. 27. They were cited for helping DOE meet the goal mandated by President Obama through an executive order signed on Oct. 5, 2009, to reduce energy consumption in federal buildings by 30 percent by 2015.

“Today’s Sustainability Award winners are leading by example, showing what’s possible when employees bring creativity, innovation, and dedication to their efforts to make the Department of Energy more sustainable,” said U.S. DOE Deputy Secretary Daniel Poneman. “The efforts undertaken by these individuals and teams are helping the Department to deliver on President Obama’s sustainability goals, while inspiring others both inside and outside of government to start investing in cost-saving clean energy technologies.”

Staff members cited for the sustainability award are: Matt Lawson, of the Material Services Branch, for his work on acquiring and managing a fleet of vehicles using alternative fuels; Bill Gervasi, manager of facilities maintenance and operations, for his work on energy efficiency and incorporating energy efficient products in Lab facilities; John Lacenere, head of AC Power Engineering, for metering electric systems to make them more efficient; Margaret King, grounds and maintenance supervisor, for managing the recycling program, including composting; and Tim Stevenson, head of project management, for reducing sulfur hexafluoride emissions.

PPPL accomplished this significant reduction largely through a 65 percent reduction over three years of leaks of sulfur hexafluoride or SF6, the gas used to insulate electronic equipment. Though not toxic, the gas has the potential to cause global warming at nearly 24,000 times the rate of carbon dioxide. PPPL began a comprehensive program of identifying and repairing tiny leaks of the gas, improved the cylinder measurement and inventory program, redesigned high- voltage power equipment, and captured SF6 from relief valves. By scrutinizing emissions with microscopic detail, researchers pinpointed the source of the gas. The Lab is continuing to upgrade high-voltage equipment and SF6 handling systems. PPPL staff also retrofitted three of the Lab’s four central boilers with a digital control system that increased boiler efficiency and reduced emissions, reducing fuel consumption by 23 percent.

In addition to the sustainability award, PPPL also received a gold GreenBuy Award from the DOE for its green purchasing program. The Lab was one of only three facilities in the country, along with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, to receive the gold award.

U.S. Department of Energy
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Princeton University.

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