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NIH Environmental Management System

Take Action to Protect the Future


Sustainability at a Glance

This page is intended to share sustainability resources with NIH staff, particularly ​​​SES​ staff looking to improve the sustainability of their IC.


The NIH is responsible for the delivery of the NIH mission: to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems, and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life and reduce illness and disability.

The climate crisis threatens to disrupt NIH operations and mission fulfillment, hindering the agency's ability to meet public health demands. Action must be taken to address the climate crisis to ensure continued fulfillment of NIH mission goals. The resources listed below provide a quick overview of how sustainability and climate action can be incorporated into laboratory and administrative operations without disruption to the groundbreaking research and discovery conducted across the 27 Institutes and Centers and policy and program offices within the Office of the Director (OD).​

​Stay Informed! - Use these resources to stay informed about sustainability at the NIH:

Get Involved! - Join a sustainability-focused interest group:


​Participate! - The following programs provide opportunities for NIH staff to assess the sustainability of their day-to-day activities and adopt new sustainable practices:

  • NIH Green Labs Program - a self-assessment ​​program and a resource for information on environmental programs and greening practices. Labs can apply for a certification each program year to acknowledge their sustainability efforts.
  • NIH Freezer Challenge - ULT freezers can be managed effectively to reduce energy consumption, which increases freezer reliability and decreases energy cost and emissions. The NIH Freezer Policy, Manual Chapter 26101-16, sets the requirements for freezer management at the NIH. The NIH Freezer Challenge goes beyond the Freezer Policy to further increase reliability and decrease energy consumption.
  • NIH Collaborative Research Exchange (CREx) - an exclusive NIH online searchable platform where IRP researchers can locate resources, services, and external vendor information to support their work at the NIH, including those offered by the NIH Office of Research Services (ORS).

Join Events & Campaigns! - Attend these annual sustainability events or participate in a campaign:​

  • NIH Earth Day - celebrate sustainability and empower the next generation during this Take Your Child to Work Day event. Activities cover a variety of environmental topics ranging from waste management and pollution to stormwater erosion and habitat preservation.
  • America Recycles Day - take this opportunity to declutter your office or lab of non-accountable electronics and soft plastic film.
  • NIH Green Labs Fair - stay up to date with the latest green lab products and lab procedures.
  • HHS Kids' Earth Day Poster Contest - this annual contest helps educate NIH staff about the Earth Day theme with carefully crafted art submitted by children in grades K-12. Virtual backgrounds featuring all NIH submissions are available on the NEMS website.
  • National Energy Awareness Month - use the month of October to remind staff about energy best management practices​ and encourage them to reassess their home and office space use.
  • Mindful Printing - consider how you can minimize printing and paper use by adopting a mindful printing attitude.

​Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! - Use best practices for waste management:

Sustainability Outside the NIH - Refer to Executive Orders and agency plans to understand how the Biden-Harris Administration is incorporating a whole-of-government approach to expanding federal sustainability:


Inspire Others! - Recognize accomplishments by nominating individuals, teams or programs that go above and beyond to incorporate sustainability into workplace routines and operations:

  • HHS Green Champion Awards​ - ​honors those that demonstrate measurable results towards integrating sustainability principles into the HHS mission and its daily operations.
  • Presidential Fed​eral Sustainability Awards - ​celebrates extraordinary leadership, innovation, and achievement of Federal agencies and their employees toward the President's charge for Federal climate action and the ambitious sustainability goals established in the Federal Sustainability Plan and Executive Order 14057.
  • Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) Awards​ - ​recognize individuals and organizations for significant contributions to energy and water efficiency within the federal government.​​

​Communicate! - Stay connected with sustainability groups at the NIH:

Resources - Use these resources to inform staff about various sustainability topics:

  • Coming soon!


Contact NEMS

We look forward to hearing from you. Reach out to us in an email.