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N.J. DEP recognizes PPPL as state’s top environmental steward

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory received an award from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection on Monday recognizing it as the top facility in the state for environmental stewardship.

PPPL is first among more than 750 companies, colleges and universities, hospitals and municipalities enrolled in the DEP’s Environmental Stewardship program, in which facilities voluntarily monitor themselves to improve their sustainability programs.

"The Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, long a leader in the area of fusion energy research, is also a leader in the area of being a good steward of the environment," DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said Tuesday. "I commend their efforts at making sound environmental practices that benefit their staff, their community and their state an integral part of the facility's daily operations."

"We are committed to protecting the environment; our mission, for example, to enable fusion energy - a clean, green, safe and nearly inexhaustible source of power - illustrates that commitment," said Dr. Adam Cohen, Deputy Director of Operations at PPPL. "This commitment extends to the operations of our facilities and the dedication of our employees.

"We have worked hard over many years to reduce our energy use and carbon emissions, convert our vehicles to more environmentally friendly fuels, compost our waste, and in general, implement a broad-based sustainability program, Dr. Cohen said. "This recognition by New Jersey is a great honor and a tribute to our commitment to the environment."

In a ceremony at PPPL on Monday, DEP Assistant Commissioner Wolfgang Skacel said PPPL’s achievement in meeting the standards is “unique.” “We have a program that has 21 different categories and nobody has reached 21 but only one facility has reached 20 out of the 21 and that’s PPPL,” he said. “Kudos to all of you.”

Skacel presented PPPL Director Stewart Prager with a certificate recognizing it as the leading facility for environmental stewardship. “Congratulations to all of you on a fine job,” Skacel said. “The environment is better because of you.”

Prager thanked Skacel for the recognition. “It means a lot,” he said. “We’re internally motivated to do this but somehow an outside pat on the back makes a big difference.”

He added that all of the employees at the Laboratory could take credit for the award because everyone takes part in PPPL’s recycling and compost programs. “This is something that everyone in the Laboratory can take pride in this accomplishment so thank you for all of this.”  PPPL employees enjoyed cake and coffee down in the lobby of the LSB building to celebrate the award.

Prager singled out Robert Sheneman, head of the environmental services division, for being one of the key people guiding PPPL’s sustainability programs.

The DEP’s Environmental Stewardship program rates facilities on everything from reducing greenhouse gas emissions to green building certification to green purchasing.  PPPL has actively improved its performance in each of those areas: The Laboratory received the Department of Energy’s 2012 Sustainability award for cutting its carbon footprint nearly in half in three years. The Laboratory’s main office building is LEED-Gold certified and is an EPA energy star building and PPPL was one of just three facilities in the country to receive the DOE’s gold GreenBuy Award for its green buying program.

After the ceremony, John DeLooper, head of best practices and community outreach, and Sheneman led Skacel and seven others from the DEP on a tour of the Laboratory, stopping at the National Spherical Torus Experiment control room, the bay where the NSTX center stack is being fabricated for the $94 million upgrade, the Science Education laboratory and the computer center.

Sheneman pointed out the composting and recycling bins throughout the Laboratory that allow PPPL to divert nearly 70 percent of its waste from landfills. He also told the visitors about PPPL’s 30 percent reduction in paper use over the past two years and its use of biodiesel in all of its EMS support vehicles. He even pointed out the cooling systems for some of the banks of computers that circulate cool air around the computer to reduce energy use in the larger area. “It’s a good team here,” Sheneman said. “People really take these things seriously. They want to participate.”

The Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and managed by Princeton University. PPPL researchers collaborate with researchers around the globe in the field of plasma science, the study of ultra-hot, charged gases, to develop practical solutions for the creation of magnetic fusion energy as an energy source for the world. 

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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