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Earth Day

April 22, 2022 Earth Day - Invest In Our Planet

"Studying Urban Microclimates" Seminar, April 18, 2022 at 11:00am - Urban areas are full of complex human processes interacting with those of the natural environment. For example, cities contain buried pipes and sewers, impervious surfaces interrupted by open areas and parks, buildings of various geometries, and moving vehicles. All of these systems interact with the soils and vegetation that we have typically modeled in isolation in environmental studies. With large datasets now available, alone with new technology and methods, we are now building better tools for understanding the humans' and cities' contributions to the Earth system.

"Sustainable ORNL Showcase Projects" Seminar, April 19, 2022 at 11:00am - Each year Sustainable ORNL releases a call for proposals for submission as a Showcase Project of the year. This year, Sustainable ORNL received 14 proposals, a record-setting response. The proposals covered a wide variety of topics and ideas that could help ORNL become more sustainable. In the end, three proposals were chosen. One funded by Sustainable ORNL, one funded by the Utilities Division, and one funded by the Facilities Management Division. These proposals will be highlighted in this virtual event, allowing 15 minutes per presentation and 15 minutes for questions at the end.

"Investigating the production of renewable natural gas from anaerobic digestion of solid waste to decarbonize ORNL steam boilers" was submitted by Oluwafemi Oyedeji, Xianhui Zhao, Erin Webb, and Tim Theiss. This project proposes to demonstrate a circular economy on the ORNL campus using anaerobic digestion (AD) of locally sourced waste materials to produce renewable natural gas (RNG) for steam generation. Anaerobic digestion is widely used for bioenergy production from agricultural and municipal wastes, creating a unique opportunity for simultaneous waste control and energy recovery. This project is compatible with Sustainable ORNL's tenets because it will ensure the generating of low-cost, low-emission RNG to replace a significant portion of the NG consumption of the ORNL's steam boilers. This project will integrate many areas of the Sustainable ORNL Program and will contribute to the carbon-neutral operation of ORNL's steam boilers. Furthermore, this project leverages ORNL's bioenergy-related R&D capability and the technical expertise of ORNL's Bioresource Science & Engineering Group in developing systems for handling and processing solid material for energy applications. The proposed project will also support ORNL engagement with surrounding communities where organic waste material will be collected (Funded by Sustainable ORNL).

"Increasing the Condensate Recovery in ORNL Steam Plant to Reduce Primary Fuel Consumption and the Associated Emission" was submitted by Saad Ayub Jajja, Kashif Nawaz, Praveen Cheekatamarla, Cheng-Min Yang, and Jason McLemore. Increasing the condensate recovery of the ORNL steam plant from the current 30% to 70% will result in a daily reduction of 11,000 pounds of CO2 emissions. This project embodies two tenets of the Sustainable ORNL initiative: (1) Reduction in the energy use intensity associated with the generation of steam on campus, and (2) Reduction in the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the generation of steam on campus (Funded by the Utilities Division).

"Towards the living laboratory with buildings as an energy hub for sustainable campus" was submitted by Jamie Lian, Piljae Im, Jin Dong, Teja Kuruganti, Kyle Gluesenkamp, Ben Ollis, Robert Nettles, and Brandy Milun. This project aims to deliver a low-cost, scalable, robust and autonomous building energy management solution that enables buildings as an energy hub to integrate load flexibilities, that is, demand response (DR) with various DERs such as solar PV, battery energy storage system (BESS) and thermal energy storage system (TESS) for energy-efficient and emission-aware operations. The resulting building performance enhancement will significantly improve ORNL's annual performance assessment in facility management and maintenance. The underlying efforts will also contribute to the establishment of living laboratory for sustainable campus operations. This project is fully devoted to the direct application of advanced building technologies developed for our R&D sponsors into our own buildings on campus to further advance ORNL's goal of efficient and sustainable operations. It specifically targets building performance enhancement for less energy consumption and higher operational resilience to help achieve the sustainability goal by FY2025 (Funded by the Facilities Management Division).

"Concrete and the Environment" Seminar, April 20, 2022 at 11:00am - Concrete is the man-made material used in largest volumes in the world, being only behind the volume of water that we consume. The annual volume of concrete used globally corresponds to thirteen times the volume of concrete existing in the Manhattan Island. Concrete is much less polluting than most of other materials, on the same volume basis. However, the scale of use makes the concrete industry responsible for large CO2 emissions. Most of the carbon footprint of concrete is due to Portland cement, its main binder. For every ton of cement produced, there is emission of 1 ton of CO2. Cement production is responsible for around 8% of the global anthropogenic emissions of CO2 because of the usage. More than 4 billion tons of cement are produced annually in the world. The demand for cement is expected to only increase in the next decades. To minimize catastrophic effects of global warming, measures must be taken to reduce the emissions from this industry.

Denise Silva joined ORNL in August 2021 as a Senior Research and Development staff member in the Building Envelope Materials Research group, part of the Buildings and Transportation Science Division. Denise has extensive experience in the field of construction materials with focus on cementitious materials. Prior to joining ORNL, she worked for 15 years for two major U.S. companies in the research and development of solutions to improve the performance and to reduce the carbon footprint of cement-based materials via utilization of chemical admixtures. Before working in the United States, Denise was a tenured professor at the Civil Engineering department of the Federal University of Santa Catarina in Brazil. Denise received her BS and MSc degrees in Civil Engineering and her PhD degree in Materials Science and Engineering from the Brazilian academia. A postdoctoral appointment at the Civil and Environmental Engineering department of the University of California at Berkeley followed, where she utilized the synchrotron light-sourced soft x-ray microscope at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to visualize particles of cement while hydrating in the presence of chemical admixtures. Denise's research focus is on lowering the embodied carbon of building materials for new constructions and retrofits.

"The Backyard Beekeeper" Seminar, April 21, 2022 at 11:00am - Amanda Killingsworth serves as Creative Services Project Coordinator at ORNL. Having joined the Lab over two years ago, she facilitates projects and leads marketing strategies across four creative teams. In this capacity, she attends to a variety of functional operations, including graphic design, photography, drone pilot vides and images, cybersecurity, and emergency operations.

Before joining ORNL, Amanda spent 21 years in the media industry in both newspaper and cable television, managing content for 19 high-profile brands namely HGTV, Food Network, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, and the Travel Channel. With a focus on results, Amanda has achieved notable successes in media communications, marketing operations, website design, digital strategy, and branding.

She's been a hobbyist backyard beekeeper for 17 years experiencing many ups and downs. But she's learned that she still knows very little about these very intelligent, fascinating and magical creatures. Life is a constant learning journey and beekeeping is no exception.

"Crafting a Circular Future with Molecular Recycling" Seminar, April 22, 2022 at 11:00am - Eastman's director of specialty plastics, Chris Layton, will discuss the global plastic waste crisis we're all hearing so much about and why that is driving us toward a more circular economy. Molecular recycling can be a vital complement to mechanical recycling to tackle the plastic waste challenges we face.

In this session, learn the ins and outs of molecular recycling technologies, what technologies work best for which materials, and how Eastman is working to develop more sustainable materials while influencing the broader ecosystem to ensure their long-term adoption.

Christopher Layton is the Sustainability Director for Eastman's Specialty Plastics business unit group. He joined Eastman in 1998 and has held roles of increasing responsibility in Environmental, Health & Safety, Technology, and Business Management/Leadership. In his current role, he works across Specialty Plastics' various markets to leverage Eastman's advanced circular recycling technologies and help customers meet their sustainability goals


Millions of unwanted items go in to landfills every day. In support of local nonprofits and in honor of Earth Day, employees can share items they may no longer want but those less fortunate can put to good use. Look for boxes on campus that request donations for the following items:

Gently used prescription Glasses - Oak Ridge Lion's Club

Aluminum pop tops and cans - Ronald McDonald House

Unwanted cell phones - Hopeline

Unopened personal items (e.g. shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant) - IVA's Place

Thank you for your support.

Did you know that donating unwanted and unused items can help divert items from landfills? When items are donated to Habitat ReStore from individuals, building supply stores, contractors, or other businesses, they are then sold at a discounted price to the public. Items too nice to throw away can now be enjoyed again or upcycled. A simple formula is used to estimate the weight of items diverted from landfills. Every dollar in sales equates to 1.3 pounds. That's 2.3 million pounds (over 1,166 tons) in one year (since last Earth Day)! Based on data collected year over year there will be a 6% increase and a grand total of 14.3 million pounds in the last 6 years (7,145 tons). Generous donations from people like you have helped greatly in this effort. Over 15,000 people dropped off items and the donation team visited 2,725 locations. This is keeping items out of the waste stream.

You can also divert from landfills and help your local animal shelter. Young-Williams Animal Center is always accepting items to help feed and care for the animals awaiting adoption. They need items such as food, stain-less steel bowls, large towels, collars, easy-walk harnesses, martingale collars, Kong or other durable puzzle toys (to hold peanut butter), stuff animals, kitchen scale (to measure in ounces), microwaveable heating discs, tube socks without holes, and kennels/pet carriers. You can see a full list here.