Greenhouse Gas Reduction

In October 2009, Executive Order (EO) 13514 was signed by President Obama as a mandate to further "green" the Federal government. This EO expanded the requirements and extended the timeline of similar EOs issued by previous presidents. A major difference is that 13514 requires federal departments to set specific reduction targets for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

As a federal facility owned by the Department of Energy (DOE), Fermilab has embraced the challenge of EO 13514 and intends to significantly reduce its GHG emissions by 2020. Fermilab's reduction goals mirror the DOE's overall goals:

  • 28 percent reduction in Scopes 1 and 2 emissions compared to 2008
    • Scope 1 – direct emissions from Fermilab activities (i.e. fleet vehicles, emergency power generators, gas systems for experiments, etc.)
    • Scope 2 – purchased electricity (i.e. the emissions from the power plants that supply Fermilab with electricity)
  • 13 percent reduction in Scope 3 emissions compared to 2008
    • Scope 3 – indirect emissions from Fermilab activities (i.e. employee air and ground travel, employee commuting, etc.)

These are very ambitious goals considering Fermilab's scientific mission and the means of achieving that mission. The particle accelerators and computing facilities utilized for data collection and analysis require large and continuous supplies of electricity. The GHG emissions associated with the generation and delivery of the electricity used at Fermilab is the lab's single largest source of GHG emissions. 93 percent of the GHG emissions were the result of electricity use. The remaining 7 percent were from activities such as fleet vehicle use, operation of stationary sources such as emergency back-up power generators, fugitive emissions from leaky equipment, employee air and ground travel, off -site wastewater treatment and the generation of waste.

To work toward the reduction goals, one strategy currently being employed is the optimization of energy use in 15 of the 100 buildings on site; replacing light bulbs with high-efficiency bulbs is one tactic being implemented. These 15 buildings will then be "recommissioned", which will include reducing energy and water consumption by incorporating engineering updates to insulation, windows, lighting, water fixtures, etc. to meet standards. There is also a long-term goal to recommission all 100 buildings on site. And, all newly constructed buildings will meet the Guiding Principles for High Performance Sustainable Buildings.

In addition, Fermilab has a few sources of renewable energy on site. Solar panels are used to power warning lights on the stop signs at the site entry gates as well as the emergency sirens that notify people outdoors of hazardous conditions (such as a tornado). Using solar panels to power these small units saves about 5 MWh each year.

Fermilab has also put a lot of work into optimizing the fleet. The fleet includes approximately 200 vehicles, which is down about 15 percent. Fleet vehicles are important since the site is so large and employees need reliable vehicles to get to many remote locations. In addition to reducing the size of the fleet, every year older vehicles are replaced with newer, more efficient models. Many vehicles burning only gasoline have been removed from the fleet and replaced with hybrid or flex-fuel vehicles. More than 80 percent of the vehicles used now are flex-fuel vehicles that burn E85 or biodiesel.

Fermilab is proud of these efforts and has plans for the future to further improve sustainability. But these efforts -- no matter how successful -- will not enable us to reach the goal of 28 percent GHG reduction by 2020. So, in addition to the above mentioned efforts, Fermilab will offset its GHG emissions by purchasing Renewable Energy Credits (RECs). RECs are essentially an investment in green energy sources. The money Fermilab spends on RECs goes directly to building green power sources such as wind and solar farms.  In 2011 Fermilab purchased 40,000 MWh of RECs equal to 7 percent of the total electricity consumption. Over the next eight years, Fermilab will gradually purchase more and more RECs until we meet the reduction goal in 2020.

Last modified: 02/10/2015 |