2018 Federal Green Challenge Award Winners in the Mid-Atlantic Region
Recognition is an important part of the Federal Green Challenge (FGC). Awards were given in the categories of overall achievement and water, electronics and green purchasing, education and outreach, leadership, innovation, waste, and transportation in the Mid-Atlantic region.
In Region 3, which serves Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, the 2018 regional award winners are the Department of Justice’s Federal Correction Institution, McDowell; the Missile Defense Agency; the James E. Van Zandt Veterans Affairs Medical Center; the Wilkes Barres Veterans Affairs Medical Center; NASA’s Langley Research Center; the Merit Systems Protection Board; and GSA’s Joseph F. Weis, Jr. U.S. Courthouse. The award winners shared details about their diversion activities, and about their awards with EPA. Below are the stories they tell behind their accomplishments.
Education and Outreach
Department of Justice, McDowell Federal Correctional Institution, Welch, W.Va.
The Federal Correctional Institution (FCI), McDowell exceeded its targeted goal of increasing diversion by 5 percent and gained a much higher result by diverting over 16 percent from the local landfill than in the previous year. This facility added a recycling program at its satellite camp. The implementation of environmental outreach programs included the education of staff, along with inmates, to provide them with instructions on waste reduction and diversion practices. Interdepartmental communications established the need to buy equipment and where to locate recycling operations. FCI McDowell also hired a few workers to collect satellite camp institutional waste to sort and recycle. FCI McDowell has become more efficient in its recycling programs, and it has educated other institutions on different methods of recycling to improve the overall Federal Bureau of Prisons Recycling Program.
Electronics and Green Purchasing
Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency, Ft. Belvoir, Va.
The Department of Defense cyber security requirements facilitated the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to upgrade approximately 90 percent of its equipment in order to handle new security protocols and an operating system. This new equipment is primarily Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT)-registered. EPEAT is a free and trusted source of environmental product ratings that makes it easier to select electronics that meet an organization’s IT and sustainability goals. Manufacturers register products based on whether the devices meet various criteria developed and agreed upon by diverse stakeholders to address the full lifecycle of an electronic product.
Further, staff at this facility have continuously worked to reduce the amount of printing. MDA has changed default printer settings to double-sided on Common Access Card (CAC)-enabled printers to reduce the amount of unneeded print jobs since documents aren’t printed until users insert their CACs into the printer and release the print job. MDA also promotes the adoption of electronic forms. Lastly, it is MDA’s policy to integrate green procurement and sustainable acquisition into both MDA daily operations and in the earliest phases of acquisition activities to minimize the impacts on mission, human health, and the environment while meeting performance parameters. It’s also MDA’s policy to require procurement decisions to consider lifecycle costs between green and non-green products and services rather than basing a decision solely on purchase price, and to the maximum extent practical, give preference to contractors providing green support services and products by including environmental factors in selection criteria.
Department of Veterans Affairs, James E. Van Zandt Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, Altoona, Penn.
The Van Zandt VA Medical Center in Altoona, Penn., has helped improve the Green Environmental Management Systems at more than half of the hospitals in its network. They also created a SharePoint online website containing useful tools, policies, procedures and guidelines used at Veterans’ Administration Medical Centers across the country. This Center leads its Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) with green chemical purchases, facility recycling, and the reduction of municipal solid waste that is generated. Construction and demolition waste declined significantly but the recycling percentage remained essentially unchanged. Given its leadership, the entire VISN has experienced enhanced environmental protection. In collaboration with the Lebanon and Wilkes Barre VA Medical Centers, Van Zandt’s environmental stewardship efforts serve to protect the Chesapeake Bay Drainage Basin—a vital and cherished national asset.
Department of Veterans Affairs, Wilkes-Barre Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, Wilkes Barre, Penn.
In 2017, this facility implemented a new controlled substances disposal program for inpatient waste. The program included wall-mounted containers to enable staff to properly dispose of controlled substances. The containers allow the facility to meet best management practices of disposal while adhering to DEA regulations that require the drugs to be made unusable and unrecoverable. Pharmaceutical waste in the facility is properly segregated using color-coded bins.
This program separates non-hazardous pharmaceutical waste, hazardous pharmaceutical waste, and p-listed waste. Although other facilities have programs in place to dispose of pharmaceuticals, not every facility uses a color-coded bin and labeling to ensure proper segregation. The Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center is one of the first to implement a new program. Through this program, there has been an increase in regulatory compliance and a decrease in possible violations. This program also diverts pharmaceutical waste from entering the waterways and landfills.
Overall Achievement and Water
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.
The NASA Langley Research Center (LaRC) strategically incorporates sustainable solutions as part of its Master Plan to achieve future mission goals while protecting its coastal ecosystem. Its neighbors include more than a million people who live, work, and play within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. LaRC’s quality stormwater pollution prevention program efforts have served as a model for other federal agencies, as well as neighbors in the watershed and beyond. LaRC staff have integrated sustainability as a guiding principle in their future development, including reducing impervious surfaces, building high-performance green buildings, upgrading infrastructure, implementing water conservation measures, and identifying long-term plans for reducing pollutants.
Over the last year, NASA LaRC experienced a 37 percent increase in green infrastructure square footage, including low impact development (LID) features around the new Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility, which is U.S. Green Building Council LEED Silver Certified, and it is the third new LEED facility opened on LaRC since 2011. New LID features included three bio-retention cells and two compost amended grass channels. To prevent future stormwater pollution to the Chesapeake Bay watershed and foster environmental stewardship, employee volunteers planted over 1,000 tree seedlings (hardwood mix) over two acres (adjacent to local waterways) during Earth Day and Arbor Day events. Additionally, a total of 11,800 sedum plugs were added to a 9,600-square foot green roof to assist in sedum establishment and to improve green roof performance.
Through LaRC’s strategic water conservation program, the Center has realized a total potable water consumption decrease of 20 percent since 2011. Additionally, LaRC also conserved potable water through improving steam plant operations and infrastructure, resulting in an industrial water consumption decrease by 36 percent.
Merit Systems Protection Board, Philadelphia, Penn.
The Merit Systems Protection Board reduced air travel miles in fiscal year 2017 by 25 percent, in part, by encouraging use of alternate meeting technologies. The Board reduced air travel miles from approximately 40,000 miles to 30,000 miles.
General Services Administration, Joseph F. Weis, Jr. U.S. Courthouse, Pittsburgh, Penn.
The Joseph F. Weis, Jr. U.S. Courthouse increased its composting from approximately 14 tons in fiscal year (FY) 2016 to 45 tons in FY 2017. This facility is diverting wastes that would otherwise go to landfills or incineration, and is instead facilitating the creation of agricultural amendments.