Tag Archives: Berkeley Lab

East Bay at high risk of wildfires: Preventive measures key

Angel Island wildfire. Photo: Chris Wage
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Allen Benitez, Chief of Protective Services at Berkeley Lab admits he’s nervous.

“With the drought this summer, there is an extraordinarily high risk of fire in the hills,” he said.

The Lab’s location in the Berkeley foothills, surrounded by trees and vegetation, makes the task of keeping that risk as low as possible daunting. The fact that there are 5,000 to 7,000 people on the campus at any one time, and that an evacuation would entail moving all of them off a fenced property through just one gate, puts the lab – as Benitez terms it — in “a tough spot.”

Benitez will be one of several fire experts speaking at a Fire Forum for the community on Monday June 2 at 7:30 p.m. at Berkeley’s Northbrae Church. He will be joined by, among others, Berkeley Fire Department Chief Gil Dong; Robert Chew, Cal Fire’s assistant chief of East Bay operations; Sal Genito, associate director of Grounds and Environmental Services at UC Berkeley; and Brad Gallup from the East Bay Regional Parks District. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley staff aims to grow city’s ‘innovation ecosystem’

Polly Armstrong presents the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce's first Visionary Awards at the Skydeck. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD
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The city of Berkeley has, in recent years, been working to make the community a better place for technological innovation via efforts to fight “brain drain,” make it easier to find office space, and create connections among its more than 300 startups to strengthen the “fabric of the innovation ecosystem,” city staff told council members during a special session last week.

The city is among the top technological and intellectual centers in the country, due to its proximity to institutions such as the University of California at Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. But it has struggled to keep creatives based within the city limits due to the pull of Silicon Valley, limited room for businesses to grow, an antiquated business permitting process and a lack of connections among startups, said city staff last Tuesday night. Some have even described the atmosphere, previously, as “toxic.” … Continue reading »

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Streamlined permitting aims to cut solar costs

Oakland mayor Jean Quan speaks in support of a new streamlined solar permitting process across nine cities of the Bay Area.
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On Tuesday, nine East Bay cities announced a new streamlined solar permitting process designed to save homeowners up to $3,500 per solar photovoltaic system.

Members of the East Bay Green Corridor, Sungevity, Inc., and the state Office of Economic Development met at Sungevity’s Oakland offices to announce a new set of permitting guidelines that will be used in all the cities in the corridor: Berkeley, Oakland, Richmond, Emeryville, Alameda, Albany, El Cerrito, Hayward and San Leandro. The new streamlined permits, scheduled to take effect by Sept. 22, will also eliminate the need to hire an expensive structural engineer, which will save time, money and boost the solar industry, advocates said.

“What these guidelines do is allow homeowners to bypass the expensive structural engineering process,” said Carla Din, director of the East Bay Green Corridor. “When you put a system on your roof, there’s sometimes uncertainty about whether or not your rafters can support the modules, and so you bring in an outside structural solar engineer. What we did is come up with a prescriptive process that would apply to 80-95% of the homes in the Green Corridor and could save up to $3,500.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley set for $12.7m in downtown transport grants

An early conceptual rendering of the new Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza.
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Berkeley expects to get $12.7 million in grant funding for changes to BART Plaza, Shattuck Avenue and Hearst Street that should make life easier for people using the Downtown BART station and buses, biking to campus and even just driving through the center of town.

On Thursday, May 23, the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC) voted unanimously on an initial approval of the city’s grant proposals for the three transit projects. Construction could begin in 2015, said Matt Nichols, principal transportation planner for the city.  … Continue reading »

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Unstable hillside closes road, relocates Berkeley Lab staff

Photo: D.H. Parks
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Local photographer Daniel Parks recently posted some dramatic images on Flickr of a slumping hillside on the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory campus.

According to a page set up by Berkeley Lab to share news about the situation, “Consistent rain over the last few months has destabilized the hillside above McMillan Road between Buildings 17 and 71. The hillside continues to inch toward the road, which has been closed as a precaution. A potential landslide warrants the road closure and relocation of Building 46 occupants.” (See a map of the area here.) … Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley’s Helios Building set to open in August

Helios stairwell by Tracey Taylor
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The Helios Building, a new addition to downtown Berkeley, is in the very final stages of construction and the scientists for whom it has been built are expected to move in over six weeks, starting on July 30.

The $133 million, 133,000 sq ft building, which stands five stories high on a two-block lot, bounded by Oxford, Hearst, Berkeley Way and Shattuck, is home to UC Berkeley’s Energy Biosciences Institute, a collaborative project between Berkeley Lab, UC Berkeley and the University of Illinois. BP (British Petroleum) has committed $500 million over the next 10 years to the institute, whose mandate is to explore the application of modern biological knowledge to the energy sector. Scientists working in the building will be exploring cellulosic fuels and bio-products among other things, including developing non-food crops to produce fuel and power.

The wedge-shaped building — which is now formally known as the Energy Biosciences Building – will also house Cal’s Synthetic Biology Institute, whose bioengineering research focuses on applications for health, food and the environment. … Continue reading »

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Program trains girls to build phone apps, embrace science

Students from Technovation Challenge show off their Android ap idea. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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The mood was serious at 8:00 am Saturday at the David Brower Center. Fifty girls from Berkeley and Albany high schools were milling around the lobby in anticipation of showing off the Android apps they had spent weeks designing.

In one corner was a team of five girls from Berkeley High with “EcoPrint,” an app that helps people trace their carbon footprint.

“It’s like a quiz. It asks questions to get a sense of your impact on the environment, like how many times did you eat meat or do you drive,” said Lauren Hoffman, a junior in Berkeley High’s International Program. “Then we give them suggestions on how to reduce their carbon imprint.”

In the opposite corner another Berkeley High team was showing off “Connect the Stars,” an app that teaches kids about the constellations.

“It’s like connect the dots,” said Donntay Moore-Thomas, a senior in the International Program. “It helps children learn about the constellations in an engaging and fun way.” … Continue reading »

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Non-profits

From a Berkeley garage, a solar initiative that saves lives

Laura Stachel and Hal Aronson
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The week before last, the city of Berkeley took time to honor two of its citizens. Laura Stachel and her husband Hal Aronson were issued with a proclamation and words of praise from Mayor Tom Bates and Councilmember Linda Maio, among others, at the April 3 meeting of the City Council. The following night, PBS Newshour ran an eight-minute segment on the couple’s work (watch it below). Six months ago, Diane Sawyer introduced Stachel as “Person of the Week” on ABC World News Tonight. Also in October, the pair appeared on CBS after winning the Nokia Tech Awards as part of the San Jose Tech Museum Tech Awards.

Such plaudits have come to the couple, who live with their kids near College Avenue in south Berkeley, because they are literally helping to save people’s lives on a regular basis, and are doing so through a combination of smarts and sheer determination. … Continue reading »

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Revealed: A Berkeley restaurant guide and labor of love

Corso: described as "xxx" in the Poskanzers' guide
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Over the past 34 years, Art and Lucille Poskanzer, who dine out at least once a week, have compiled what is probably the only dedicated restaurant guide to Berkeley and Oakland. However, unless you happen to work at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, it’s unlikely you will have seen it.

That changes today, as Berkeleyside is honored to be able to introduce “Restaurants in the Berkeley Area”, which includes regularly updated reviews of 100 restaurants in Berkeley and 80 in Oakland, as well as maps and a recent news section.

The printed guide began life in 1978 as “Guide to Berkeley’s Restaurants and Hot Tubs”. It was conceived by Berkeley Lab physicist Art Poskanzer, who, that year, was tasked with hosting an international nuclear physics conference which drew in many out-of-town visitors.

“This was the days before Yelp,” Poskanzer says today. “We wanted to be able to provide a useful dining-out resource for visitors.” … Continue reading »

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Lab choice may prove beneficial to Berkeley in long term

Officials ready for the press conference announcing Richmond as the new site for the second campus of LBNL. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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By Lance Knobel and Frances Dinkelspiel

In late September and early October, Dr. Jeff Ritterman, a member of the Richmond City Council, went down to Berkeley West Biocenter on Potter Street, one of the divisions of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. Both times, Dr. Ritterman arrived before 8 am and staked out a spot in front of the entrance. As scientists came to work, Dr. Ritterman handed them a 4×6 postcard with a picture of the Richmond shoreline, signed by a resident of that city. It was a pitch for placing LBNL’s second campus in Richmond.

“I knew the decision would be important to (lab) employees,” said Dr. Ritterman, who served as head of cardiology at Kaiser Richmond for 30 years and became a city councilman in 2009. “I knew people had some concerns about Richmond and I wanted to reassure them and make an extra effort.” … Continue reading »

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Breaking: Berkeley Lab chooses Richmond for 2nd campus

Design for the Richmond Field Lab campus
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The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has selected Richmond as the site for its second campus. The Lab annnounced the news this morning on its website, saying the University of California-owned Richmond Field Station site “presents the best opportunity to solve the Lab’s pressing space problems while allowing for long term growth and maintaining the 80-year tradition of close cooperation with the UC Berkeley Campus.”

Three Berkeley-connected sites were on a shortlist of six for the campus. They were: Berkeley Aquatic Park West, located in West Berkeley; Emeryville/Berkeley, (which included properties currently occupied by the Lab in Emeryville and West Berkeley); and Golden Gate Fields, spanning the cities of Berkeley and Albany.

The Lab had originally said it would announce its decision in November 2011, but revised that to “early in 2012″ in late November, saying it needed more time to fully evaluate its options. … Continue reading »

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Misconceptions about scientists, this one at Berkeley Lab

Daniel Parks self-portrait
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Daniel Parks is one of Berkeleyside’s favorite photographers. You will have seen, and probably admired, many of his images here over the years, including “Storm over Berkeley”, the photograph we recently offered as a gift to readers who lent their support to the site.

Parks is not, it may surprise you to learn, a professional photographer. He is, in fact, based at the Berkeley Lab, doing research for his doctorate.

Parks recently uploaded to the Berkeleyside Flickr poolContinue reading »

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Berkeley Lab second campus decision delayed into 2012

Schematic design from the August presentation of Aquatic Park West second campus site
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Cities and developers eagerly awaiting a decision on the second campus for Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are going to have to wait a little longer. When the lab announced its program to find a second campus, the choice among the six shortlisted sites — three with footprints in Berkeley — was scheduled for this month. Today the lab announced it expected the decision in early 2012.

“We have been working diligently over the past months since announcing our list of finalists,” said Berkeley Lab Director Paul Alivisatos in the lab’s notice of the delay. “We need a bit more time to fully evaluate our options and to confer with stakeholders in order to arrive at the best possible decision.  We have a number of excellent options before us. Our goal now is to complete this phase of the process and announce a preferred site as soon as we can.” … Continue reading »

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