JGI is in the process of shifting its operations from Walnut Creek to the heart of the Berkeley Lab campus.
By Friday, October 18, the production sequencing labs in Building 100 were silent. Twenty years after the JGI united the genomics expertise of three national labs in one long building at Walnut Creek, after countless generations of sequencing platforms (up to 120 sequencing machines at maximum) maintained by a workforce that numbered more than 100 at its peak, all the machines were switched off. Over the next two weeks, they were crated, shipped to, and then installed at the Integrative Genomics Building, JGI’s newly-built home located in the heart of the Berkeley Lab main campus.
On Monday, November 11, a week after they’d been moved to Berkeley, two of the JGI’s sequencing platforms were turned back on. A third sequencing platform was scheduled to resume production runs before the end of the week.
“One week up and operating is a great story and a testament to our extensive move planning efforts!” cheered JGI’s Operations Deputy Ray Turner. How extensive? Consider that the process of moving 250 people and their equipment from 4 single-story buildings to a new 4-story building 20 miles away in another city and county began more than three years ago.
For JGIers, the moving process began in 2017 with annual one-day cleanups. During those days, they were asked to “KonMari” their spaces, a decluttering method focused on keeping only items that bring joy (and are necessary for JGI’s operations). At the JGI, that translated to sorting through the stuff accumulated in offices, labs, lockers, and other storage spaces in Walnut Creek and deciding on what was essential. There were multiple waste streams to consider, including unneeded chemicals, unopened lab consumables, unneeded Lab tagged equipment, recyclables, and general waste that would actually go to the landfill. Sorting required multiple speedpaks – large boxes with nearly a cubic yard of capacity each – and dumpsters.
The multiple waste streams were a collaborative effort between JGI’s Safety office, the Safety & Wellness (SWELL) Team, and Sustainable Berkeley Lab. “While we’re getting rid of stuff, our effort in this cleanup is not just to clean out the building. We don’t want to just throw everything into the landfill, we need to be able to divert it appropriately for the sake of our environment,” said Christine Naca, JGI’s SWELL Lead and part of the IGB Move Team. “And also, so that the reusable stuff that’s very expensive, like lab equipment and ergonomic equipment – all of that is being diverted to be reused or recycled. And so that is in part recycling and sustainability. But it’s also so we’re not wasting Lab resources.”
During these cleanout days, multiple speedpaks for the various waste streams located throughout the buildings allowed JGI staff to mindfully declutter. Earlier this year, the third and final annual cleanup day filled nearly 24 speedpaks, and more than half of them were tagged for waste streams other than the landfill.
Naca added that the multiple waste streams were coordinated with Sustainable Berkeley Lab, which is also piloting a zero waste effort at the IGB. “Sustainable Berkeley Lab is really gearing towards getting us to zero waste certification. That says you’re diverting waste appropriately and a certain percentage of it is going everywhere except landfill.”
At each phase of the ongoing move process to the IGB, speedpaks are once again filling up as moving boxes are filled and stacked for transport. When considering how to do similarly large moves at the main Lab campus, consult cleanup.lbl.gov and wasteguide.lbl.gov.