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Environmental Responsibility

Oak Ridge Associated Universities' (ORAU) environmental management philosophy emphasizes sustainability through recycling, waste minimization, green purchasing, and energy efficiency. Whether it means saving more than 125,000 pounds of materials annually from landfills or ensuring that hazardous waste is handled properly, ORAU is committed to incorporating environmental responsibility into our business strategies and day-to-day operations.

ISO 14001 Certified

How we’re making a difference

  • ORAU’s environmental management plan was a contributing factor to the organization’s successful ISO 14001 certification, which recognizes ORAU’s commitment to continuous improvement in pollution prevention, energy conservation and waste reduction. ORAU received ISO 14001 recertification through Jan. 21. 2023.
  • ORAU was recognized as an “Outstanding Green Achiever” by the GoGreenET’s Green Business Recognition Program that highlights Knoxville-area businesses and nonprofit organizations that engage in environmentally-friendly business practices.
  • ORAU was also named among the winners of the Green Electronics Council’s 2018 EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) Sustainable Purchaser Award for a fourth consecutive year. In 2017, by purchasing EPEAT-registered products over conventional electronics, ORAU reduced its electricity use by 181,120 kilowatt hours or enough energy to power 14 U.S. homes for a year, and reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by more than 32.5 metric tons, the equivalent of taking 23 average U.S. passenger cars off the road for a year.

Recycling and waste minimization

Recycling and waste minimization have significantly contributed to our successes in environmental responsibility. In support of our management of the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, ORAU’s procurement office prioritizes purchasing goods made from recycled materials. Likewise, our recycling program has saved hundreds of thousands of pounds from area landfills—so much that the net weight of our recycled materials exceeds the weight of our waste.

LEED certification

The centerpiece of ORAU’s main campus in Oak Ridge is a 73,000-square-foot office building that earned LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2009. LEED—Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design—is the nationally accepted standard for the design, construction and operation of high-performance, sustainable buildings.

The building efficiently uses resources—energy, water and materials—while minimizing the effects on human health and the environment, and promoting economic performance.

ORAU received the esteemed Gold-level distinction based on excellence in five categories:

  • Sustainable site development
  • Water savings
  • Energy efficiency
  • Materials selection
  • Indoor environmental quality
ORAU employee at recycling event

Recycling is just one way ORAU is committed to environmental responsibility

Recycling plays a significant part in environmental management, and ORAU operates a large-scale program for both recycling used consumables and buying products made from recycled materials.