Northeast Regional Office Green Team and Rick O. Bennett, Deputy Regional Director, Hadley, Massachusetts, FWS.
Rick O. Bennett, Deputy Regional Director
A Green Team formed in the Northeast Regional Office of the FWS made significant environmental improvements to its 72,000-square-foot, GSA-leased facility through its exemplary Environmental Management System. Members of the 20-person team, volunteers from all major programs in the 250-employee office, serve on an advisory group and/or the Landscaping, Energy, Recycling, or Transportation work groups. The team's policy implements the FWS Director's Order 144, Greening the Service through Environmental Leadership. Team members meet regularly to review progress and set goals. They also solicit ideas from employees, brief them on team accomplishments, and educate them on green products and practices. Major accomplishments to date include conducting an energy audit which resulted in electrical savings of over 230,000 kWh annually and annual pollution prevention of 228,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, 960 pounds and sulfur dioxide, and 380 pounds of nitrogen oxides. The Team also formed partnerships with a local university to implement a new recycling program which diverts 3,120 gallons of waste annually and makes recommendations for environmentally friendly landscaping. The accomplishments exemplify the "triple bottom line" of sustainability in that they achieve environmental, economic, and social benefits. The team models the importance of global considerations for facility management for other regional offices and facilities in the field, in furthering the mission of the FWS.
The Northeast Regional Office (RO) of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is located in a 72,000 square-foot, GSA-leased building in Hadley, MA. This building lacked energy conservation measures; had no program for recycling glass, metal, and plastic; and was surrounded by grounds dominated by impervious surfaces and maintained with pesticides. In late 2004, RO employees who helped implement Environmental Management Systems (EMS) in the field and other concerned RO employees proposed implementing an EMS in the RO to reconcile the workplace with the Service mission of fish, wildlife, plant, and habitat conservation for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Regional Directorate not only approved the EMS concept, but adopted it as part of the Region's Invest in People Initiative. In January, 2005, 20 employees from the six largest programs in the Regional Office, including a representative from an employee union, volunteered for a Green Team to implement the EMS. The Green Team consulted with the coordinator of the EMS Team of EPA's Mid-Atlantic Regional Office in Philadelphia and the 250 employees of the Hadley RO to structure the team as a nine-member advisory team with four work groups: Landscaping, Energy, Recycling, and Transportation.
Under the EMS framework the team developed a policy, which committed to following the language of the Service's Director's Order 144, Greening the Service through Environmental Leadership (tiered under several greening Executive Orders (EO) including EO 13101 and 13148.) Team members developed goals by contacting employees through email, staff meetings, and in person during a walk-through of the building. They meet regularly to review progress and make appropriate changes to ensure continued improvement. For example, the team met in January of 2006 to review the past year and set goals for the upcoming year. The Green Team also regularly solicits ideas from employees and briefs them on goals and accomplishments.
One of the first tasks accomplished by the team was an Earth Day cleanup of a disorganized mailroom to save energy, time, supplies, and money. The building manager noted the following about the effort: "The amount of work that was accomplished in one day was astonishing. From the mailroom alone we filled the entire dumpster with trash and filled four recycling bins with 14 cubic yards of recyclable paper. Organizing the storage area by the gallery and large auditorium significantly increased our storage capacity. Toner cartridges were collected, placed in a central location, and packed for shipment. Obsolete computer equipment and electronic equipment were palletized and readied for disposal [GSA auctions]. Obsolete forms and publications were recycled. The dock area was cleaned of a decade worth of build up. . . result[ing] in the mailroom staff having a cleaner, safer, and more efficient environment in which to work." Freeing up space in the mailroom and clearing the loading dock of stored boxes also resulted in making more room for recycling containers and saving building heating and cooling energy by allowing more frequent closure of doors to the loading area. The mailroom cleanup kicked off other Earth Day events such as an office potluck and annual highway cleanup.
Other accomplishments to date, listed under the pertinent sections of Director's Order 144 are the following:
Section7. e.(3) Energy Management. We will make responsible energy use fundamental to the development and operation of our lands and facilities. . . . The energy management process will emphasize energy awareness, energy conservation, and energy efficiency . . . and Section 7.c.(2) Community Outreach Assistance, and Planning (b) We will emphasize the best-proven sustainable technologies and concepts form all sources through partnerships and outreach. This will include energy efficiency . . .
Working with the building owner, building manager, and an electrical contractor working under a local electrical utility's conservation program to conduct an energy audit and make energy saving improvements, including: installing reflectors in approximately 800 overhead lights to reduce the number of fluorescent tubes by half (used tubes were recycled), replacing 270 tubes with energy-saving Super T-8 tubes, replacing 33 incandescent exit signs with LED exit signs, installing approximately 75 occupancy sensors, replacing 120 halogen or incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, installing timers on six hot water heaters, and ordering VendingMisers for five vending machines.
This project exemplified the "Triple Bottom Line of Sustainability", i.e., environmental, economic, and social benefits. With nearly $60,000 in incentives provided by a local utility, an investment of $62,000 from the building owner, and over $3,000 provided by the Green Team, the expected electrical savings are over 230,000 kWh annually, with a payback of 1.8 years. After payback, the improvements are projected to result in cost savings of $35,000 annually. (These figures have been updated from preliminary figures reported elsewhere.) They will prevent emissions of approximately 228,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, 950 pounds of sulfur dioxide, and 380 pounds of nitrogen oxides annually, which is especially pertinent in the Northeast where sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides cause acid precipitation pollution in Adirondack, Catskill, and mid-Atlantic highland and coastal plain ecosystems. Carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions also trap solar energy causing global warming, which may result in sea level rise and loss of coastal habitats, where many of the region's National Fish and Wildlife Refuges are located, in addition to broad-scale ecosystem changes. Finally, these accomplishments serve as a model for the public and other Service offices to follow because they were noted in two articles of the local paper, the Daily Hampshire Gazette: "Green Teams move to trim power, Valley companies work to conserve electricity" (August 5, 2005) and "New projects adopt green construction" (November 7, 2005) and were also featured as a case study in an attachment to a December 22, 2005 memo from the Director of the Service on the subject of energy and fuel conservation.
Section 7.e.5.(a). Maximize water conservation efforts at every facility.
Section 7.e. (6) Solid and Hazardous Waste Management (c) Materials will be reused onsite or sent offsite for recycling.
Initiation of a glass/plastic/metal recycling program in partnership with the University of Massachusetts. The team purchased 5 large recycling containers for kitchenette areas and the University supplied several large collecting bins. The program was an immediate success, with an estimated 3,120 gallons of recyclable materials diverted from landfill and recycled annually. Recycling also saves energy because manufacturing goods from recycled materials typically requires less energy than producing goods from virgin materials. Recycling of paper products allow more trees to remain standing in the forest, where they can continue to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere
Section 7.e. (6) Solid and Hazardous Waste Management (a) Divert maximum amounts of waste from landfills and reduce or eliminate the use of toxic chemicals.
Section 7.e. (4) Landscape Management (a) . . . Our goal is to reduce or eliminate toxic chemicals for pest and vegetation control.
Partnership with the University of Massachusetts Landscape Architecture Department for the RO to serve as a studio project for Sophomore Design and Graduate Student Construction classes. Students will use the RO as an example for making the landscaping and maintenance of an existing commercial property more environmentally friendly and will compare conventional weed and pest control and irrigation with greener options, including a cost-analysis.
Section 7.e. (4) Landscape Management (a) . . . We will also use native landscape materials to link adjacent habitats to Service infrastructure. Erosion and sediment control measures will be comprehensively instituted on all of our lands.
Development of a plan for the entrance plaza to reduce impervious surfaces and promote landscaping with native plants. The plan was accepted by the building owner and $600 of native plants will be planted in restored areas in 2006.
Section7. c.(2) Community Outreach, Assistance, and Planning. (a) We will work with communities to develop comprehensive greening plans where appropriate. We will pursue partnerships with communities that embrace and foster environmental awareness and stewardship.
As indicated above, the Green Team partnered with the University of Massachusetts to implement a recycling program and to use the RO as a classroom studio to solicit ideas for green landscaping practices (see below)
Section 4. c. All employees, contractors, partners, and volunteers have a responsibility to educate others regarding environmental leadership.
Education of RO and regional staff through Green Team Bulletin Board; intranet site (under construction); purchase of recycled-material pens with intranet site address; Green Team updates at monthly all-employee meetings, which are broadcast to the field and archived for later viewing; and pre-all employee meeting scrolling PowerPoint slideshows with following topics in 2005:
Section 7.a. (5) Awards Program. We will develop a Servicewide awards program to reward and highlight innovative programs and individuals showing outstanding environmental leadership
Purchase of a recycled glass award to rotate within the RO to acknowledge employees demonstrating green leadership and presentation of the award to the first recipient, the building manager, for his coordination efforts in EMS implementation
Section 7.f. Fleet and Transportation Management. We will reduce dependency on nonrenewable energy sources and will ensure that the Service experience remains environmentally friendly. We will seek alternative transportation systems . . .
In summary, the accomplishments and ongoing projects of the Hadley Regional Office Green Team demonstrate the team's commitment to greening the Service through environmental leadership. Because team members are in a Regional Office, they hope to serve as a model for other regional offices and facilities in the field so that they, too, understand that sustainability of our lands and facilities must be viewed in the context of the interdependency of ecosystems, resources, and biodiversity to better preserve, conserve, and protect them for future generations.
U.S. Department of the Interior
Greening of the Interior