[The following observations and recommendations were submitted by an ORNL employee who wishes to remain anonymous.]
I reside in 4100, the new building that will (likely?) get LEED certification, and I have some comments.
-There are recycling bins in the corridors, but all we got in our offices is 1 trash can. This can is emptied by the janitorial staff into trash bins, not recycling bins.
That means that if I want to recycle paper, cans, and plastic, I either have to make “piles” in my office, or walk with each and every item to these bins. The first option will probably be frowned upon (including using cardboard boxes) because we were told the internal aesthetics determine what we can do and not do (such as blocking windows). Management has been seen giving tours of our building to visitors. Piles of recyclable trash are not likely to be appreciated in this respect.
The second option is a waste of time (though good exercise).
I suggest to distribute small recyling cans such as distributed in 4500S. This way we have a neat way of collecting recyclable items and we can bring them to the big bins in the corridors when the can is full, saving many time wasting walks.
-There are many battery operated items in the restrooms: soap dispensers, towel dispensers, and antibacterial sanitizer dispensers. Permanent battery operated equipment doesn’t belong in a sustainable building. Power lines could have been included to feed electricity to these items. (I admit there is a possibility that this has been considered and the likely transformers necessary for these low voltage items are deemed to be a bigger waste of energy. Somehow I doubt that consideration was made though.)
-There are plastic items presumably meant as air refresheners in the rest and breakrooms. Whereas the appreciabiliy of the air especially in restrooms is important, it is precisely the chemicals in “nice smelling” items such as these that resemble hormones and other important regulating molecules in our bodies. In this respect, I am not comfortable about the recent (couple of years) pervasiveness of these items on the ORNL campus. Additionally, fragrance releasing products don’t refresh the air – they work only by saturating the air with other smells. So either we’re being saturated by these molecules, or it doesn’t work – neither is a good thing.
Smell neutralization (eg. illuminated TiO2 panels) is a safer option. Note that this option creates less waste too…
-The time it takes for hot water to reach the faucet is long. Maybe there was no good place to put the hot water source close to the restrooms, but now a lot of cold water is wasted before hot water is coming out. (Normally I use cold water, but sometimes it’s necessary to use hot water for washing greased hands.)
-The nice landscaping in front of the building is being irrigated. I thought the landscaping was supposed to be native to this region. This should result in only having to water the plants during the time they need to get established. Judging from the permanent sprinkler hardware, this is not the case. That to me seems wasteful of a precious resource as water. (The same holds for the at least 5 times that I noticed the sprinklers near the roundabout (visitor center) were on right after a big storm passed through… I understand especially that entrance to the campus needs a decent look, so yellowing of the lawn should be prevented. However, rain sensors could be useful in that system.)
To end on a positive note; I like the sensors (light/power) they have put in our offices, and the thermostat that allows me to not have to freeze at the 67 F it is in our corridor as long as I close my door.