to the environment begins with its mission statement; that commitment
is further stressed in all six of its goals, but particularly in
the last one:
* Provide best value for customer agencies and taxpayers.
* Achieve responsible asset management.
* Operate efficiently and effectively.
* Ensure financial accountability.
* Maintain a world class workforce and a world class workplace.
* Carry out social, environmental and other responsibilities as
a federal agency.
All federal agencies are mandated by legislation and executive order
to purchase and use products that are better for the environment.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified a
list of itemsComprehensive Procurement Guideline (CPG)that
should be purchased with specific levels of recovered materials.
EPAs CPG requirements include paper and paper products; non-paper
office products; construction products, landscaping products, park
and recreation products, etc.
GSA has taken the requirements a step further and implemented its
own internal Green Affirmative Procurement Program (APP), which
directs purchases not only to the CPG items, but also requires GSA
employees to consider EPAs environmentally preferable products
and the U.S. Department of Agricultures bio-based products.
Every time GSA buys products or services for the governments
use, it must consider the environment as well as the cost. The only
reason not to purchase the designated products is if the price is
unreasonable, if it does not meet performance standards or if it
cannot be obtained in a reasonable timeframe.
With all of GSAs procurement staff and credit card holders
trained in buying green, GSA is making a difference. It offers a
variety of environmental products and services to all its federal
customers to help them comply with federal environmental laws and
regulations. GSA Advantage!an on-line purchasing systemmakes
it easy to identify environmental products and services as they
are highlighted with federally recognized environmental symbols.
GSA also promotes the purchase of green products in its newsletters,
at Customer Service Seminars, and an entire track is dedicated to
environmental issues at the annual GSA Products and Services EXPO
(scheduled for May 6 to 10, 2003 in San Antonio, TX). This annual
EXPO usually draws more than 5,000 federal employees. In 2003, seven
workshops are devoted to agencies responsibilities to buy
The National Furniture Centers (NFC) prestigious Evergreen
Award program recognizes its schedule contract suppliers corporate-wide
efforts in developing and implementing recycling, affirmative procurement
and waste reduction initiatives that can set an example for other
NFC business partners to follow. The NFC presents two Evergreen
Awards annually. Recipients of the coveted award include both small
and large businesses.
When the NFCs assistance was requested from the United Soybean
Board and its business partners in introducing and promoting carpet
with bio-based (soy oil) content backings into the federal supply
system, the NFC saw it as a way to help federal agency customers
comply with Executive Order 13101 and, most currently, the new Farm
Bill signed into law by President Bush in May 2002. In addition,
the NFC saw it as an opportunity also to help decrease U.S. dependence
on foreign oil, help U.S. farmers and promote incorporation of a
renewable resource into manufacturing processes.
Through the NFCs efforts, a special item number category in
the flooring schedule addresses not only recycled content, but also
bio-based content products. Additionally, the Furniture and Furnishings
section of the 2003/2004 GSA Environmental Products and Services
Guide will alert customers to anticipated bio-based products to
be added to contract. The NFC participated in a stakeholders forum
in October 2002 on Growing the Federal Use of Bio-based Products.
GSAs Public Buildings Service (PBS) is a leader in building
green not only because of its place in the U.S. real estate marketowning,
leasing and managing over 334 million square feetbut because
of its level of commitment to incorporating principles of sustainable
design and energy efficiency into all of its building projects.
The result is an optimal balance of cost, environmental, societal
and human benefits that provide a superior workplace for the federal
worker and superior value for the American taxpayer. It is GSAs
intent that sustainable design will be integrated as seamlessly
as possible into the existing design and construction process including
new construction, repairs and alterations, and lease construction.
Not only is a buildings overall design expected to be green,
but also recycled content, sustainably harvested, rapidly renewable
and bio-based materials must become a part of GSAs standard
selection considerations. EPAs CPG have led GSA on this path,
directing agencies to purchase certain recycled content products.
The availability and selection of such products continues to grow
to keep the industry viable.
GSA is incorporating sustainable design principles throughout its
building processes and has revised standard guidance to reflect
its environmental commitment. Its standard Solicitation for Offers
(SFO) for leased space has been updated to include sustainable design
provisions. New clauses were added addressing construction waste
management, reuse of building materials, recycled content products
and sustainable wood products. Others have been modified to include
environmentally preferable products or at least allow for the possibility
of their use.
Buildings must be durable, secure, cost-effective and productive,
while at the same time have aesthetic qualities and be sustainable.
GSAs message to architects is that a building must also be
efficient to operate, provide a healthy environment for its occupants,
and be an integral part of the community in which its located.
GSA utilizes the LEED Green Building Rating System as a goal
in design criteria to help apply principles of sustainable design
and development to facilities projects. Beginning in Fiscal Year
2003, all new GSA building projects must be certified through the
LEED Green Building Rating System, and a Silver LEED rating is encouraged.
In preparation for this commitment, some regional offices have already
begun the challenge of meeting LEED requirements. Currently, 20
GSA projects are registered with the U.S. Green Building Council
working toward LEED ratings. Three projects have achieved LEED Certificationa
Social Security Administration building renovation in Woodlawn,
MD; the new Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Youngstown,
OH; and a Child Care Center in Woodlawn, MD.
A facility says a lot about a business, and GSAs new approach
to the workplace facilitates high-performance environments that
address productivity and reorganization issues, as well as environmental
concerns. Workplace 20·20 is PBS innovative approach
for designing and implementing superior workplaces for the federal
worker that begins with a customers business and culture.
Through this teaming effort, a workplace can become the tool to
empower people to be happier, healthier and more productive, resulting
in added value to real estate decisions and the American taxpayer.
When it comes to driving green, GSA recognizes that
an important element to any plan for reducing the impact of gasoline-powered
vehicles on the environment is not driving. Thus, it had to find
a way to improve air quality, reduce traffic congestion and conserve
energy. The three main components of driving green are
the transit subsidy program, teleworking and providing alternative
fuel vehicles to its customers.
In October 2000, a number of federal agencies began taking part
in a Pilot Transit Subsidy Program in the Washington, DC area, which
provided employees up to $65 for using mass transportation. In order
to make a real difference in keeping cars off the roads, GSA chose
to offer the transit subsidy program to their employees nationwide.
Beginning in 2002, eligible employees can receive up to $100 a month
to leave their cars at home. Even though in many locations the cost
of mass transportation exceeds the maximum allowable benefit, it
still remains an incentive for them to leave the driving to someone
GSA has a very productive telework program for those employees who
can work outside the traditional office. The Office of Personnel
Management and GSA serve as lead agencies for the federal teleworking
America is faced with many new challenges, with air quality and
energy security being two major national issues. Our nations
health and security are currently at risk due to our dependence
on petroleum as the primary energy source for vehicles. Vehicles
account for 75 percent of all pollution in urban areas and consume
over 50 percent of all oil used in the U.S. The GSA Office of Vehicle
Acquisition and Leasing Services has purchased over 34,000 alternative
fuel vehicles for its federal customers, more than any other fleet
in the U.S. Its Alternative Fuel Vehicle program is named DAVE to
send the message: Drive Alternative Fuel Vehicles Easily.
The GSA is focused on not only saving energy resources, but also
saving actual dollars. It has an Energy Center of Expertise that
reduces federal utility costs by promoting optimal energy use. Every
employee can make a difference. For example, turning off all the
lights and electrical equipment in a work station every day saves
taxpayers $120 a year per station.
GSA resources are offered to all federal agencies and non-profit
organizations. It brings value to organizations by offering strategic
energy management programs that result in increased net operating
income and enhanced asset value of real properties.
GSAs customers look to it to procure utilities that are both
cost-effective and environmentally responsible. It also partners
with investor-owned utility companies, national associations and
non-profit environmental organizations to disseminate information
on energy-related issues. To facilitate its mission, GSA has created
a worldwide Web site that provides: area wide contracts for the
procurement of utilities and for the acquisition of value-added
services such as utility financing of energy conservation projects
aggregate purchasing of natural gas and electricity in deregulated
markets; and advocacy in the public policy arena to include renewable
power sources as part of its energy portfolio.
GSA is involved in programs for recycling, waste prevention, pollution
prevention and environmental management.
For example, recycling programs are now running effectively in more
than 1,100 government-owned and -leased buildings serving over 650,000
clients. GSA also helps federal agencies set-up recycling programs
in buildings they operate, addressing not only the traditional office
waste stream, but may also include other related programs that direct
employees on the proper disposal of newspaper, glass, beverage containers,
phone books, carpet squares and even grass clippings.
The recycling program benefits both the public and the environment.
In 2002, GSAs federal recycling programs raised $440,144 in
recovered materials sold to recycling and reprocessing firms in
the private sector. These funds were returned to all agencies participating
in GSAs Federal Recycling Program. Another $3.8 million was
saved in transportation and landfills costs. That represents 40,250
tons or 80,500,000 pounds of office material. (Yes, thats
80 million, 500 thousand pounds!) In addition to the most commonly
recycled items, hazardous waste may include items such as household
cleaners, pesticides, paints, solvents, fluorescent light bulbs
and their PCB ballasts, and copier toners.
Waste from the construction of new buildings and the renovation
of existing space generates an estimated 24 percent of construction
waste in landfills. GSA encourages the reuse and recycling of materials,
including woody debris from site clearance, concrete, various metals,
gypsum wallboard, ceiling tile, packaging, paper, glass, plastic,
doors, ductwork, carpet and other miscellaneous waste. Finding outlets
for the recycling of construction waste can sometimes be difficult.
GSA partnered with the National Institute of Standards Technology
to create a database of construction waste recyclers throughout
the country. Managers simply click on the appropriate state to see
the list of recyclers. (See Managing
Waste for more information on GSAs construction waste
Environmental Management System (EMS)
As a federal agency, GSA is charged with being a responsible steward
toward the American public while upholding a multitude of environmental
and safety laws and regulations. One of GSAs strategic goals
specifically states that the agency will carry out social,
environmental and other responsibilities as a federal agency.
GSAs EMS provides information so that its client agencies,
contractors and the public can more easily understand how the requirements
of GSA environmental policies, initiatives, federal state/local
statutes and regulations impact them.
The Public Buildings Service of GSA is implementing a nationwide
EMS that requires GSA to look at how all of its activities impact
the environment, how GSA manages these activities, and how it can
continuously improve its environmental management. In the development
of the GSAs EMS, a number of environmental tools, programs
and initiatives have been created or are presently being created
that include a two-page technical guide that explains the responsibilities
of GSA associates, the laws/regulations that GSA is required to
follow, resources to find out more about these issues, and actions/processes
that GSA should take to assess and manage these environmental and
safety issues. In addition, an Environmental Hotline answers questions
relating to environmental regulations and policies that affect GSAs
business. An environmental audit program of GSA properties was established,
with over $10 million being invested in these audits during fiscal
years 2002 and 2003.
Sandy Jones is a GSA environmental coordinator based in Atlanta,
GA. She can be reached via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
GSAs Don Horn also contributed to this article.