Brookhaven Lab Awarded DOE GreenBuy and GreenSpace Awards

The Lab is the first DOE site to win both awards for "outstanding sustainable acquisition achievements"

Steve Ferrone, Suhani Gandhi, and Joy Haskins enlarge

Pictured from left to right: Steve Ferrone, Suhani Gandhi, and Joy Haskins. (Kevin Coughlin/Brookhaven National Laboratory)

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory has once again won the DOE gold-level GreenBuy Award and its first GreenSpace Award (bronze level), making it the first site in the DOE complex to win both awards.  

The GreenBuy Award Program recognizes DOE sites for excellence in “green-sustainable purchasing” that extends beyond minimum compliance requirements. This is the Lab’s eighth gold-level GreenBuy Award and fourth Superior Award. 

Buying green: Lab employees raise the bar 

Launched in 2011 by the Office of Sustainable Environmental Stewardship, the GreenBuy Program recognizes DOE sites for purchasing sustainable products that save energy, conserve water, and reduce health and environmental impacts.  

To help sites meet and exceed federal sustainability goals—and navigate amongst hundreds of possible products—DOE’s Sustainable Acquisition Working Group developed a priority products list following extensive research and review of standards. The priority products list helps DOE sites find products that are both relevant to their mission and meet sustainability requirements. 

If a site purchases a certain number of products in a category, it achieves a bronze-, silver-, or gold-level award. To recognize exemplary leadership and continuous buying of sustainable products, sites that earn the GreenBuy Gold Award multiple times will qualify for advanced awards: prime, superior, or elite. 

“Brookhaven Lab is very close to achieving the elite award, which is reserved for those who achieve 10 or more gold-level awards,” says Shab Fardanesh, senior advisor and sustainable acquisition program coordinator in the DOE Office of Sustainable Environmental Stewardship.  

The Laboratory and the DOE Office of Scientific and Technical Information lead the site complex with eight and nine gold-level awards, respectively. 

An annual participant in this voluntary program, the Laboratory was recognized with a gold-level GreenBuy Award for fiscal year 2023 by purchasing 12 priority products in eight categories.   

The Laboratory also earned its fourth GreenBuy Superior Award for demonstrating exceptional achievements in sustainable acquisition.  

While DOE requires Brookhaven to meet green purchasing requirements, these awards demonstrate the Lab’s increasing commitment to sustainable buying. 

“What more can we do?” 

Some GreenBuy items purchased in fiscal year 2023 include bio-based laboratory equipment and cleaners and energy-efficient computers. 

Tracking these products purchased from across the Lab is no easy feat. 

“Hundreds of them,” says Joy Haskins, engineer and sustainable purchasing coordinator in the Environmental Protection Division, referring to the estimated numbers of orders, or web requisitions, she has to “dig through” for the fiscal year. Haskins personally searches through numerous orders placed at the Lab, searching for and researching green-compliant products. 

To offset the time-consuming endeavor, Haskins uses keywords such as refrigerator, fridge, freeze, freezer, or manufacturer names when searching for commonly ordered products. 

“You have to be creative,” says Haskins, noting that she gets lots of help from the Custodial Services and Warehouse Operations groups. “They have that information readily available.”  

She also reaches out to the Modernization Project Office (MPO), which oversees major construction projects, to advocate for green purchasing. Haskins credits MPO’s Suhani Gandhi, a project manager, with keeping her informed during major projects. “[Suhani] always asks, ‘What more can we do?’” 

Once Haskins has located a certain number of GreenBuy-eligible orders, she initiates the application process through the DOE sustainability dashboard. But the awards don’t just stop at products; they can also apply to workspaces. 

Conference room filled rows of long desks with green chairs enlarge

EIC Conference Room (Jessica Rotkiewicz/Brookhaven National Laboratory)

“Sustainability is not just about products” 

In fact, the Lab also earned its first GreenSpace Award in fiscal year 2023 for the renovation of conference room 3-300 in building 1005S, the site of the growing project planning team for the future Electron-Ion Collider (EIC). 

Gandhi, who is also a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional, led the renovation, which met DOE goals by 60%, thereby qualifying for the fiscal year 2023 GreenSpace Bronze Award.  

“We looked for sustainable elements in all the products,” says Gandhi. 

Some of the products acquired for the EIC conference room included green-certified furniture, indoor paint, and lighting. Also, ceiling tiles, electronic displays, and carpet met criteria.  

“We also built in the future needs of the EIC into the final configuration, such as structural support for power and AV equipment,” says Gandhi. “This was sustainable because it reduces damage to something that’s newly built and reduces the need to have to rebuild a brand-new space.” 

Another way Gandhi and the MPO project team designed and constructed with sustainability in mind was to reuse the existing bathrooms and create a separate gender-neutral bathroom as well as a wellness/lactation room.  

“We could have put in a lot of money, and materials, and changed the existing bathrooms to meet these other criteria, but we decided to build a separate bathroom that allowed us to meet all the goals,” says Gandhi. “Sustainability is not just about products. It’s about space, resiliency, and reusing what you have.” 

A component of the GreenBuy Program and introduced in 2021, the GreenSpace Award recognizes DOE sites for greening an entire space by the purchase of sustainable equipment, materials, and products in that space, such as a building or office area. The product goals are the same as those on the priority products list. 

The GreenSpace Award includes five categories: cafeterias, conference rooms, garages, landscaping, and research laboratories. 

“We can work to achieve the Gold Award for this conference room if we continue to purchase items for the space,” says Haskins. “We are hoping to win the award for a research lab space in the future.” 

Criteria for a lab space include purchasing Energy Star-rated freezers and refrigerators, calculating fume hood energy use, and purchasing bio-based lab consumables, as well as green furniture, paint, ceiling tiles, lighting, and flooring. 

Gandhi reflects on the completion of the EIC conference room, where, some day, teams will be working on one of the most significant scientific facilities in the world.  

“It is gratifying. If you see the before-and-after photos, you see a brighter and happier place,” says Gandhi. “To see the drawings actually come to life, to see it come to fruition, is amazing. A happy client is icing on the cake.” 

“We can all do our part” 

“The U.S. federal government is the single largest consumer in the world. As a federal contractor, it’s important that the Lab does its part to reduce environmental impacts by purchasing sustainably,” says Haskins. “Sustainable purchasing not only strengthens the environment; it also strengthens the organization, society, and the economy, and it achieves value by considering all aspects of the buying process, such as manufacturing, distribution, and disposal.” 

Haskins also notes that while the GreenBuy and GreenSpace Awards help to recognize the Laboratory as a leader in environmental stewardship, there is always room for improvement.  

“As more sustainable products and resources for environmentally preferable purchasing (EPP) become available, we can continue to reduce our impact by using the tools available to us,” she said.  

For example, the Procurement and Property Management (PPM) Division has resources to help buyers, such as links to the EPP product search tool. This tool identifies products in all product categories with federal sustainable purchasing requirements.  

“We can all do our part to lower our impact on the environment by ensuring we are checking for EPP alternatives with every applicable purchase,” says Haskins. 

The average Lab employee who places orders via the web requisition system plays a primary role in the Lab’s performance. They can seek or suggest EPP alternatives to items that are requested. For example, if buying a refrigerator or dishwasher for a laboratory, they should check to see that it’s Energy Star rated. 

And if you are buying EPP products, “Remember to check ‘Yes’ on your web requisition in response to ‘Are any of the Items on this requisition included in the EPP?’,” says Haskins. “This helps us accurately track and get credit for reaching sustainability goals.” 

Sustainable purchasing at the Lab has far-reaching effects.  

“[Brookhaven Lab’s] participation in this program leverages the federal government's purchasing dollars to achieve mission goals while improving the marketplace for greener products and reducing the environmental impact of the Department's operations,” says Fardanesh. “We realize each year achieving the GreenBuy Award is more difficult because we are rewarding continuous improvement.“ 

Working together to meet—and exceed—green goals 

A dedicated team of Brookhaven staff, managers, and site leadership aided or supported this award-winning effort.  

“Joy Haskins and Steve Ferrone, environmental compliance representative for the Facilities & Operations Directorate, have been instrumental in gathering all of the information for the award submittals,” says Timothy Green, manager of environmental compliance in the Environmental Protection Division. “It takes a concerted effort every year to gather this information. Their efforts allow Brookhaven to showcase sustainable purchasing that helps encourage the effort to expand.” 

Of course, achieving these groundbreaking awards for the Lab and DOE would not be possible without the individual who places the order in the first place. 

“I would like to thank the buyers as well,” says Jason Remien, manager of the Environmental Protection Division. “We recognize them for making the effort to find and purchase green products that not only help us win these types of awards but, more importantly, can help reduce environmental pollution, conserve natural resources, reduce energy and water use, reduce waste, and reduce the environmental costs of production, transportation, and disposal.”  

In the end, the GreenBuy and GreenSpace Awards are not just awards, a means to an end—they’re an indication of how we adopt “green” as a way of working and living.  

As Gandhi says, “Sustainability is an intrinsic part of my thinking.” 

Brookhaven National Laboratory is supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit

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