Greening Grants Meeting at the 2015 DOE Summit

Minimizing Energy and Environmental Impacts of Federally-Funded Research

Organized by: I2SL with DOE BBA Laboratories Technology Solutions Team support

Meeting Description: As follow-up to the 2014 DOE Better Buildings case competition on “Greening the Grant Process for Research Institutions,” this meeting will focus on ways to connect sustainability to federally supported research. This has the dual benefit of reducing the environmental footprint of research, and maximizing the effective use of federal dollars in research budgets.

Meeting Objectives

  • To raise awareness that greening of grants not only benefits reducing the environmental footprint of research but also benefits efficient, effective use of federal dollars to maximize research funded with federal research budgets.
  • To share what initial actions are underway to begin to connect sustainability to research finances by federal agencies and universities
  • To provide the opportunity for representatives from various federal agencies and universities to connect on this subject and discuss ways to connect sustainability to federal research funding.

Summary of meeting: Meeting notes with list of attendees

Presentations: (Where possible, links to presentations have been provided below)

Consequences from Missing Connections between Sustainability and Federal Research Funding
Kathy Ramirez-Aguilar,Ph.D., Green Labs Program Manager at the University of Colorado-Boulder and Chair of the I2SL University Alliance Group

Initiatives in the UK to Connect Efficiency to Research Funding
Peter James, Ph.D., Director of S-Labs (Safe, Successful, and Sustainable Labs in the United Kingdom) and Professor, School of Life Sciences, University of Bradford, UK

GSA: Addition of a Laboratory to the Sustainable Facility Tool (SFTool.gov) & Inclusion of Biomedical Equipment and Supplies Category to the Green Procurement Compilation  (www.sftool.gov)
Michael Bloom, Sustainability and Green Building Program Advisor, GSA

NIH: Guide for the Selection and Purchase of Energy Efficient Equipment for Research Laboratories and Healthcare Facilities
Alamelu Ramesh, PE LEED AP, Chief of the Standards and Policy Branch (SPB), Division of Technical Resources, Office of Research Facilities, NIH

HRSA: Integration of Sustainability Principles in Grant Development, Review & Award Criteria
Bill Hemmingson, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Office of Policy and Program Development, Bureau of Primary Health Care, HRSA

DOE: Connecting Sustainability to Indirect Cost Recovery (ICR) and Grant Terms & Conditions for Energy Efficient Lighting
Kristen Taddonio, Lead Energy Efficiency Specialist, Building Technologies Office, Commercial Buildings Program, DOE

UC-Berkeley: Energy Management- Engaging Occupants and Financially Connecting Occupants with Electrical Consumption
Kevin Ng, PE CEM, Assistant Energy Manager/Energy Analyst, University of California-Berkeley
NOTE: View additional information provided:

UC-Santa Barbara: Shared Instrumentation Website to Minimize Duplication and Maximize Use of Campus Lab Equipment
Amorette Getty, Ph.D., LabRATS and Material Research Laboratory, University of California-Santa Barbara

CU-Boulder: Facilities Management Funding To Incentivize Purchases of Energy and Water Efficient Equipment by Labs
Kathy Ramirez-Aguilar, Ph.D., Green Labs Program Manager, University of Colorado-Boulder

OMB/OFFM: Uniform Guidance CFRs requiring equipment sharing and avoiding acquisition of duplicative items
Gil Tran, Senior Policy Analyst in the Executive Office of the President, for the Office of Management & Budget (OMB) and Office of Federal Financial Management (OFFM)

NOTE: At the last minute, Gil Tran was not able to attend the meeting.  However he did provide information to share via email on the Uniform Guidance Code of Federal Requirements (CFRs) related to this topic including the following CFRs:

  • 200.312 (b) & (c) which enables equipment title transfer of equipment purchased on federal research grants to universities with few restrictions
  • 200.313 (c)(2) which requires sharing of equipment purchased on federal research grants
  • 200.318 General procurement standards
    • (d) requires avoiding acquisition of unnecessary or duplicative items
    • (e) encourages inter-entity agreements promoting sharing of goods and services
    • (f) encourages purchasing surplus property instead of new equipment and property
  • 200.322 requires a state agency to comply with section 6002 of the Solid Waste Disposal Act requiring procurement of items that contain the most recovered materials practical of items of $10,000 or more

Next Steps:

  • Susan Hinton and Alamelu Ramesh of NIH Office of Research Facilities (ORF) will be reaching out to the NIH Office of Extramural Research (OER) to explore the idea of putting language in the RFP (Request for Proposals) informing applicants that if funding is granted, incorporation of resource conservation or sustainability will be expected in expenditures of grant funding. This avoids incorporating resource conservation/sustainability in the selection process of grants, but enables encouragement of efficiency or conservation in the way funding is spent after an award is granted. Expected actions could start off as a simple list, but could grow and change/mature over time.
  • Allison Paradise of My Green Lab and Brenda Petrella of Dartmouth agreed to work together to explore the idea of including a voluntary section in grant applications where applicants could choose to share the actions their labs are taking for conservation and efficiency. This would be modeled after sections in grant proposals now where applicants are asked to share what processes will be used for biosafety where applicable. 
    • For NSF grants: Information can be provided under the "Broader Impacts" section. Univ. of California Santa Barbara has started to do this for labs who have gone through their Green Labs assessment process called LabSYNC.
    • For NIH grants: Here is some information written up by Brenda Petrella at Dartmouth.
  • Kathy Ramirez-Aguilar of CU-Boulder agreed to develop a clear "problem" or "opportunity" statement describing the issue at hand for the group's consideration.
  • All agreed on the importance of raising awareness of this issue with university colleagues and federal colleagues in the hopes of finding a solution that will be in the best interest of all parties (granting agencies, university administrators, and scientists).
  • Phil Wirdzek agreed to research whether there is an annual meeting or conference of federal grant officials to which such a presentation could be offered.
  • The suggestion was made that another Greening Grants meeting should be held at the 2016 DOE Summit where we could re-convene on progress of the above actions.

View the letter of invitation to the May 29, 2015, meeting that was sent out to federal invitees by I2SL UAG.

 

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