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January 23, 2007

Berkeley Lab Issues Long Range Development Plan

BERKELEY, CA —The U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has released its draft 2006 Long Range Development Plan (LRDP), which establishes a framework of land-use principles to guide the Lab’s growth and other physical development through 2025.

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A draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR), providing an assessment of the LRDP and its potential effects on the environment, is also available. Both documents, and additional information, can be accessed at Berkeley Lab’s LRDP website:

The 2006 LRDP balances science-driven facilities with modest growth, sustainable development, and a commitment to environmental stewardship. The plan will enable the Lab to conduct nationally important research on clean energy, computational sciences, and genomics and biosciences — to name a few — while ensuring that the surrounding community is impacted as little as possible. It sets the stage for a safe, cost-effective, and operationally flexible Lab infrastructure capable of long-term support of evolving scientific missions.

“As national challenges emerge, we must maximize the use of our scientific resources, revitalize our existing infrastructure, and make long-term investments in new scientific facilities,” says Berkeley Lab Director Steve Chu in the LRDP’s foreword. He adds that “as a leading institution in the areas of energy and environmental research, we are committed to developing the Laboratory in a manner that sets the standard for resource conservation and stewardship.”

In this vein, the LRDP balances the flexibility to accommodate future research needs with sound management of the Lab’s site. For example, Berkeley Lab’s Helios program, which seeks to develop abundant, carbon-neutral, and inexpensive solar-based energy technologies, will require modern research facilities. Unfortunately, 62 percent of the Lab’s buildings are over 40 years old, many of which do not meet the Lab’s future research needs. Change is needed.

“The Laboratory will fall far short of its responsibilities to the nation if the facilities of previous generations are relied upon for a new generation of science,” says Chu.  

Importantly, the Lab strives to be a good neighbor by proposing modest and reasonable growth in the 2006 LRDP. Based on concerns from the local community, the Lab significantly reduced its space, population, and parking growth projections from projections first drafted in 2003. Here’s the LRDP by the numbers:

  • Population: Over the next 20 years, the Lab’s adjusted daily population of 4,375 (as measured in 2003) is projected to increase to 5,375. This is an average annual growth rate of 1.1 percent, or approximately 50 people per year, through 2025.
  • Occupied building space: The Lab’s 2003 baseline of 1,760,000 gross square feet (gsf) of occupied building space is projected to increase to 2,420,000 gsf. This is a 1.8 percent per year increase over the next 20 years. The Lab proposes to demolish up to 320,000 gsf of occupied building space that is unsafe or beyond its useful life, and may build an additional 980,000 gsf, for a net increase of 660,000 gsf.
  • Parking: The 2006 LRDP provides for up to 500 net new parking spaces over the next 20 years, an average annual increase of 1.1 percent that matches population growth. The Lab will review its transportation program when 375 additional parking spaces have been provided, or at 10 years, whichever comes first.

The LRDP also advances several design concepts that will shape the Lab’s infrastructure. Among them, the Lab will promote alternatives to the use of single-occupant vehicles. A transportation demand management program will include commute alternatives, coordinated truck deliveries, and monitoring and studies of transportation improvements.

Environmentally friendly design is a key value promoted throughout the LRDP. Berkeley Lab will maintain its visual character marked by buildings among trees and shrubs along a vegetated hillside. The Lab will follow U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) criteria on every new building, and new buildings will incorporate the Lab’s energy efficiency research.

All University of California campuses, and Berkeley Lab, are required to maintain and periodically update their LRDPs. As part of this process, the Lab began drafting the 2006 LRDP in 2003. The LRDP EIR will undergo a public review process that ends on March 23. A public hearing for the EIR will be held at the North Berkeley Senior Center on Feb. 26.

The LRDP and EIR are expected to be submitted to the UC Regents for review in the fall. If approved, they will replace Berkeley Lab’s existing LRDP and EIR, which were initially approved in 1987 (the EIR was updated in 1992 and 1997).

Ultimately, the 2006 LRDP will enable Berkeley Lab to tackle some of the most pressing scientific problems facing the planet while being a good neighbor to the surrounding region, and the nation.

“Let’s not take our current strength for granted,” says Chu in the foreword. “Let’s renew our commitment to research, education, and innovation while serving as a positive force in economic, environmental, and community responsibility.”

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