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Strategic Partnerships for Sustainability

Jamie Herold, Bruce Miller, Dr. Sharon Jean-Phillippe, Neil Giffen, Greg Byrd, Jimmy Stone, Herman E. Radke III, Nick Oldham, Melissa Lapsa, Landscaping Review Committee, Natural Resources Management Team

Strategic Partnerships for Sustainability recognizes the use of strategic partnerships to contribute positively to site sustainability. Sample partnerships may include those with sites across the DOE complex, within multiple parts of the site's organization, between sustainability and research programs, and with local and regional community organizations.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is located within the 32,000 acre Oak Ridge Reservation (ORR). ORR is home to major stands of forests, grasslands, and aquatic habitats. The ORNL Natural Resource Management Team is tasked with the conservation efforts for the entire ORR, making ORNL uniquely suited for real-world, practical applications for natural resource management in natural and urban settings. The ORNL Landscaping Committee and Sustainable ORNL arboretum. In 2019, the ORNL Arboretum was certified through the internationally recognized ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program, for the benefit of conservation, science, and the public. The Arboretum website contains maps, information, benefit to wildlife and ecosystem services, and strategic partnerships that created this sustainable landscaping feature.

The Arboretum accreditation in 2019 represents a significant historical milestone of over a decade of strategic partnerships to create sustainable landscaping with native plants at ORNL. While many institutions landscape with typical ornamental flora and most arboreta include species from across the globe, ORNL chose to only include native tree species in order to highlight the natural beauty of Tennessee forests. This unique approach enlightens onsite staff and the public of DOE’s efforts in encouraging pollinator habitat, native tree species, sustainable landscaping, and environmental research. The Arboretum is uniquely positioned to benefit the ORR National Environmental Research Park, one of seven DOE outdoor laboratories in support of investigating effects of various energy technologies on environmental processes.  Scientists and educators enjoy its many unique advantages, including a large information base, access to onsite experts, and proximity to educational institutions.

Designating an arboretum within ORNL’s sustainable campus was primarily the result of strategic collaboration between ORNL, Tennessee Division of Forestry (TDF), and University of Tennessee (UT). TDF originally suggested ORNL create a campus tree health monitoring program. As a result, students from multiple universities have participated in ORNL internships conducting tree inventories, insect surveys, arboretum design, and sustainable landscaping. The tree inventory turned into an UT research project on ecosystem services of ORNL campus trees.