BY MAIRE O’NEILL
A Site Sustainability Plan for Los Alamos National Laboratory released Tuesday revealed that LANL is using telework as a combined strategy to reduce COVID-19 spread at the Lab but also to increase the workforce. It also indicates that LANL does not have sufficient space to bring on some 4,000 projected new employees and that federal funds have not been earmarked for enough new facilities to accommodate the new-hires.
“The telework strategy this appears (to be) the approach going forward. Shifting a significant number of staff to work off-site will open up office space,” the report says,
By the time FY2020 ended on September 30, 2020, telework was well-established as the default method of performing all LANL work to the extent possible and even when COVID-19 pressures appeared to be relaxing, the report says a good portion of the LANL workforce continued teleworking.
“These successes – from the point of view of work performance, more efficient use of site resources and reduced demand for energy – have made telework a prime candidate for permanent and widespread use at LANL after the COVID-10 pandemic ends,” the report states. “It is likely to be especially valuable in freeing up space for new personnel critical to mission expansion in the short and long terms.”
The Sustainability Plan refers to the Lab’s Comprehensive Master Plan which is says is under development. It says the Comprehensive Master Plan includes infrastructure for the near, mid and long term to support “growing and changing missions”. LANL officials announced in late 2019 that some $5.5 billion would be spent on infrastructure over the following five years and $10 billion over the following 10 years. Between October 2018 and December 2019, some $1.018 billion was spent. Los Alamos County Council, State Rep. Christine Chandler and the Los Alamos Reporter have asked for a “site plan” which was expected to be able to review in December 2019, but to date access to an overall plan for the Lab has not been released to the public.
A major theme of the report is the need to replace aging electrical infrastructures to meet the Lab’s growing demands for electricity.
“Laboratory energy and water use is forecast to increase because of a significant growth in high-performance computing (HPC) and the Matter –Radiation Interactions in Extremes (MaRIE) facility. Over the next 10 years, the Lab is likely to experience a doubling of energy use in the HPC facilities along with significant increases in cooling tower water use,” the report states.
Where does that all that energy come from? The report notes that the Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration and LANL procure and manage the electricity generation resources required to supply LANL mission work.
“They and Los Alamos County commit their generation, transmission and distribution to a pool in a long-term contract between the parties called the Electric Coordination Agreement or the Los Alamos Power Pool,” according to the report, and that agreement expires in 2025. The agreement defines how maintenance and operations, resources and expenses are shared.
“LANL and Los Alamos County commit their resources with the understanding that all output will be apportioned between the parties in proportion to the units of energy used. LANL has used approximately 80 percent of the energy,” the report states. With projections showing energy use doubling in the next 10 years, that percentage is likely to change.
The report also gives some insight into construction activity on-site. It reflects that four buildings – the CMRR, the CEFC, and two modular office buildings will come on board this fiscal year with beneficial occupancy of a laboratory/office building in TA-22 in FY2024 and the Energetic Materials Characterization Facility in FY2027. It also looks like three another eight facilities are in the works, including three new fire stations.
The report does not mention that LANL has been seeking to lease 180,000 square feet of office/light warehouse space within a 50-mile radius of the Lab and recently leased 28,000 square feet of office and conference space in Santa Fe which will house 75 employees. In fact, the report states that over the past five years, LANL has avoided the use of leasing to address space needs while maintaining a significant portfolio of leases in Los Alamos.
“Because of regional demographics, the Los Alamos lease market can accurately be described as a limited market with logistical constraints on competition. With LANL as the primary employer, the market is essentially an oligopoly in which LANL dominates the leasing market, the report says.
The entire report may be read at https://permalink.lanl.gov/object/tr?what=info:lanl-repo/eprr/ESHID-603621