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Vol. LXV, No. 15
July 19, 2013
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NIH ‘Green Champions’ Honored for Creativity, Commitment

More than a dozen organizations, small groups and individuals were recognized for their commitment to sustainability at the fifth annual HHS Green Champion Awards Ceremony held in Lipsett Amphitheater on June 20.

The ceremony honored NIH recipients for innovation, collaboration, return on investment and impact in greening and sustainability efforts, almost all of which are accomplished in addition to the awardees’ regularly assigned duties.

“NIH has proved to be a true green leader this year with 8 green champion awards and 6 honorable mentions,” said Howard Kelsey, HHS deputy assistant secretary for facilities and logistic service. “It’s a tribute to what people care about.”

Dr. John Balbus, NIEHS senior advisor for public health and HHS principal to the global change research program, delivered the ceremony’s keynote address Howard Kelsey, HHS deputy assistant secretary for facilities and logistic service
Dr. John Balbus (l), NIEHS senior advisor for public health and HHS principal to the global change research program, delivered the ceremony’s keynote address. Also speaking was Howard Kelsey (r), HHS deputy assistant secretary for facilities and logistic service.

Dr. John Balbus, NIEHS senior advisor for public health and HHS principal to the global change research program, delivered the ceremony’s keynote speech, commending attendees for their work helping address what he called the great challenge of our generation. “Sustainability, climate change resilience and health we know are intricately linked,” he said. “The innovations we’re talking about today aren’t just about reducing cost, they’re not just about producing environmental benefit—these are truly public health interventions.”

Balbus also encouraged all green champions to fully meet future challenges by considering fundamental transformational changes in the way NIH produces and uses energy and materials. He acknowledged that the effort is not likely to receive expanding financial resources. This will require future creativity and innovation, like that being honored today, he said.

Patrick Shirdon, director of management at the National Institute on Aging and chair of the NIH sustainability management team, said recent green team accomplishments include implementation of the Chemical Surplus Program through NIAID FreeStuff, “which was so successful that it was implemented across NIH and is now known as NIH FreeStuff. This program has successfully reduced thousands of dollars in the procurement of chemical agents in NIH laboratories through the reuse and distribution of unused and unopened chemicals.”

He continued, “Another noteworthy accomplishment is the NIH mercury amnesty events. The NIH Division of Environmental Protection will be offering a Mercury Amnesty Program throughout the NIH main campus during the months of June to October 2013. DEP staff will visit all of the labs located on the Bethesda campus to pick up mercury-containing equipment and mercury compounds for compliance with NIH’s mercury-free policy.”

Among those recognized with awards were the electric charging station group, a trial project that enables NIH employees to charge personal electric vehicles using circuits paid for by the NIH Federal Credit Union. The data center uninterruptable power supply team, a partnership between CIT and ORF, also received an electronic stewardship award for an upgrade to the data center’s power system from an unreliable diesel generator/battery and rotary system to a more stable rotary-based uninterruptable power supply. The new system reduces power consumption by nearly 50 percent, carbon footprint by 55 percent and diesel consumption by 96 percent.

Patrick Shirdon, director of management, NIA

Patrick Shirdon, director of management, NIA

Other awardees included the NCI Shady Grove voice-over IP team; the recycled used plastic caging team; the sustainable furniture initiative; the NIH Information Technology Acquisition & Assessment Program; the NCI Shady Grove green transportation group; and the NCI Shady Grove waterless urinals team.

The NCI Shady Grove renewable energy group, the watt stoppers initiative, the NCI green team and the NCI campus at Frederick green team received honorable mentions for energy management and environmental stewardship. An honorable mention for individual stewardship also went to Minoo Shakoury-Elizeh of NIDDK. The freezer initiative, a cash-for-clunkers effort that organized the replacement of 98 old energy-hogging freezers with 70 new energy-efficient freezers, was also recognized with honorable mention for sustainable acquisitions.

The HHS Green Champion Awards were established in response to an Executive Order issued by President Obama challenging federal agencies to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, energy and water consumption and pollution. For more information about sustainability initiatives at NIH or for a full list of the award winners, visit www.nems.nih.gov.


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