Rod Walton

A prescribed prairie fire, one of many land management techniques that mimic natural processes and maintain high-quality, diverse ecosystems, is a familiar sight at Fermilab. Photo: Fermilab Roads and Grounds We are talking about the concept of “sustainability” more than ever these days, and the quotation marks around the word underscore the difficulty in understanding just what is meant by it. At its simplest, sustainability means managing resources now in a way that allows them to be replenished in time…

Fermilab Natural Areas has been an Illinois 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation since 2008. The group recently adopted a Strategic Plan to support an aggressive fundraising drive. Part of Fermilab’s “personality” is our pride in the land we occupy. Robert Wilson, the laboratory’s first director, instilled a sense of place that has continued for more than 40 years. In 1975, with the assistance of Robert Betz, we began our history of ecological land stewardship with the first handful of acres of tallgrass…

Fermilab’s IARC Office, Technology and Education Building is nearing completion and will eventually be certified as a LEED building. Among many innovative features of the building is geothermal heating and cooling. Photo: Reidar Hahn Last week, the Grid Computing Center (GCC) became the first Fermilab building to attain 100 percent of the Guiding Principles for High Performance and Sustainable Buildings, a federal mandate to dramatically increase the efficiency and sustainability of federally owned buildings. GCC is a 16,000-square-foot data center…

Coyote 351 was initially tagged in Schaumburg, Ill., but he made his way to Fermilab in 2010 and spent his summer splitting time between Batavia neighborhoods and Fermilab — totally oblivious to human boundary lines. Photo: Greg Vogel, AD Soon the snow will all be gone, and we will once again be outside enjoying the outdoors in an unfrozen state (trust me on this!). A large part of our efforts to manage and care for this site will involve conservation…

Brush cleared from the area near the intersection of West Wilson and B roads burns in a recent brush fire. The large round object near the center of the pile is a bale of switchgrass from the bioenergy plots southwest of the Village. The waste bale was used to ignite the fire as an environmentally preferable alternative to a chemical fire starter. Photo: Dave Shemanske, FESS Part of the job of caring for the Fermilab site is occasionally removing unwanted…

Savannas are characterized by widely spaced trees, mostly oaks. The savanna in the Tevatron ring is dominated by reed canary grass, soon to be replaced by dozens of native flowering species common in natural savannas. Photo: Ryan Campbell, FESS In 1975, with the creation of a few acres of restored prairie, Fermilab became a center for ecological renewal and conservation. Nearly 40 years later, a network of volunteers and dedicated ecologists remains committed to preserving rare plant communities and the…

Purchasing chemicals with an eye toward reduction can help avoid a needless accumulation of chemicals. The Hazard Control Technology Team in ESH&Q is urging Fermilab employees to inspect their chemical inventories for excess inventory. Photo courtesy of David Hockin, ESH&Q Regardless of which listing of environmental liabilities you look at, waste in its various forms is always near the top. Part of the reason for this is that waste contributes to many other issues. Many chemicals contain volatile components that…

Sign up for GreenRide Connect to find others to ride to work with and carpool. If you sign up by Aug. 26, you’ll be entered in a drawing for a gas gift card. Want to save money, make new friends and help the planet at the same time? A website called GreenRide Connect, run by Argonne National Laboratory, enables you to locate fellow employees with similar commutes to ride together to and from work. You can also track your cost…

Birdwatching is one of the many nature activities people enjoy on Fermilab grounds. Photo: Reidar Hahn Fermilab is a unique federal facility, not only because of its mission to explore the most basic properties of the universe, but because our 6,800 acre campus is open and accessible for the public to enjoy the site’s many natural areas by walking, biking, birdwatching or photographing nature. The Fermilab grounds are a green island in a region of intense development. The lab has…

Acres of restored plant communities, like this area inside the Main Ring, can store tons of carbon. Photo: Fermilab Tracking carbon dioxide, or CO2, in the atmosphere has been a compelling job for scientists around the globe for the last 50 years. Since the Pliocene era, roughly 800,000 years ago, the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has remained relatively stable, cycling between 200 and 300 parts per million. However, since the late 18th century, CO2 levels have risen sharply. In…