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Federal Green Challenge

2020 Federal Green Challenge Award Winners in the Pacific Southwest Region

Recognition is an important part of the Federal Green Challenge (FGC). Awards were given in the categories of innovation, water, energy, and leadership in the Pacific Southwest region.

In Region 9, which serves Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, and 149 Tribes, the 2020 regional award winners are the Drug Enforcement Administration, Western Laboratory; U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Region 5;  General Services Administration, 1st Street Federal Courthouse; and Department of Defense, US Army Reserve 63rd Readiness Division. The award winners shared details about their diversion activities, and about their awards with EPA. Below are the stories they tell behind their accomplishments.


U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Region 5, Vallejo, Calif.

The National Greening Fire Team (GFT), established a vision of achieving net zero waste at all large fire incidents by 2030 and a mission of integrating sustainable operation's best management practices into the fire community.

The team, comprised of 18 members from the USDA Forest Service, is a partnership with Washington Office Fire and Aviation Management that serves to research, recommend, and assist with implementing sustainability best management practices in incident operations.  

Fiscal Year 2019 Team achievements included:  

1) Release of a “Sustainable Operations in Incident Management – Preparing for the 2019 Fire Season” memo from senior leadership;  

2) Establishment of a public-facing website, quarterly Bulletin, webinar series, and Ambassador Program to increase awareness of the Team’s mission and to advance application of its deliverables; and 

3) Execution of an On-site Incident Recycling Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) spanning four Geographic Area Coordination Centers (GACCs) covering Arizona, New Mexico, California, Oregon, and Washington. 

Photo of USDA Forest Service Region 5 FGC Recycling StationThe 3-year BPA was ordered on nine fires in 2019 across all four GACCs. The BPA offered: 

  • Standardized recycling equipment, signs, processes, and expectations so fire camp personnel have a similar recycling experience on each camp, increasing efficacy and engagement. 
  • Assurance to Incident Management Teams that waste diversion services at fire camps will improve waste management practices with less strain on in-house personnel. 
  • Standardized waste diversion reporting that enables the agency to capture and communicate our efforts to achieve compliance waste reduction Directors, Executive Orders, and Laws. 

The increased uptake of the BPA presented a challenge because of the perceived additional cost of ordering contracted recycling. Via direct engagement with Incident Management Teams, Buying Team Leads, and Procurement Officials, the GFT clarified the cost-benefit analysis and demonstrated that, in many cases, vendor-led recycling is less costly than the “in-house” alternative.

The GFT’s efforts are in direct service to the USDA Forest Service’s conservation mission. Per Kelly Jaramillo (Region 3 Sustainable Operations Coordinator and BPA Program Lead for the Forest Service Southwest Region), “USFS Fire operations have an extensive supply chain, resulting in substantial resource consumption. The scope of wildfire response efforts presents an opportunity to manifest our mission through efficient federal operations.” 


Drug Enforcement Administration, Western Laboratory, Pleasanton, Calif.

The Western Laboratory’s Environmental Management System continues to exceed its goals while demonstrating, motivating and engaging employees to reduce of their emissions footprint. In 2019, DEA’s Western Laboratory joined the PG&E Solar Choice, Green-e Energy Certified program, which provides clean renewable electricity from offsite, utility-owned solar photovoltaic arrays in Northern California.  The utility, PG&E, builds and owns the new solar arrays, and the Western Laboratory uses the new renewable electricity, reducing its energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. The DEA is confident that solar energy makes sense, is a good alternative for replacing fossil fuel and, additionally, is cost-effective.

In the first three months of participation in the program, the Western Laboratory received 435,000 kilowatt hours of renewable energy, accounting for 100 percent of the Laboratory’s energy use.  The Western Laboratory’s participation in the Solar Choice program was a contributing factor in increasing DEA’s agency-wide renewable energy content from 2 percent in FY2017 to over 10 percent in FY2019.   


General Services Administration, 1st Street Federal Courthouse, Los Angeles, Calif.

Photo of  General Services Administration, 1st Street Federal Courthouse FGCThe United States Courthouse was designed and constructed to meet the requirements of LEED Platinum for new buildings, a certification received shortly after construction was completed in 2016. In FY19, the property had a 30 percent reduction in electricity and a 41 percent decrease in natural gas use, which was achieved only through the efforts of our property management, onsite maintenance, regional support, and our tenants. Since the building opening in 2016, the GSA has made great efforts in reducing its energy consumption to obtain a target of 35 EUI (Energy Use Intensity). 

Property management and preventative maintenance of the building systems have contributed to strong energy conservation efforts. Over the last three years the property management and the operations and maintenance contractor partnered to fine tune the building for maximum efficiency. In 2018 the photovoltaic system was activated, which produces 501,084 kW hours per year of electricity. Other examples that have contributed to overall energy reduction include: 

  • Optimum Start-Stop implementation to reduce the total number of operating hours of our central plant 
  • Fine tune the building sequence of operations 
  • Tracking energy use through our Emon-Dmon meters 
  • Operation of a heat pump chiller to carry the building under low loads 
  • Plug Load Management, Daylight Harvesting, Occupancy Sensors 
  • New staff onboard tutorials to train employees how tenant space is designed for efficiency 


Department of Defense, US Army Reserve 63rd Readiness Division, Mountain View, Calif.

Xeriscaping after at 63rd RD The United States Army Reserve (USAR) 63rd Readiness Division (RD), California, realized significant water use reduction in 2019. Thanks to their Directorate of Public Works (DPW), water use across USAR locations within the 63rd RD footprint dropped 39.3 percent.  A reduction from 38,860,000 gallons in 2018 to 23,600,000 gallons in 2019 resulted in a water cost savings of $62,000.

The project initiated when the 63rd RD enhanced the tracking of water consumption and cost like the reporting methods used for monitoring energy at Army Reserve Centers. Utilizing the reporting across their numerous USAR sites helped the 63rd RD establish better benchmarks. This enabled the DPW to better analyze and investigate Army Reserve Centers with higher water usage numbers. Numerous projects were then completed including: 

  • Repairing restroom leaks and modernizing fixtures at nine locations,  
  • Xeriscaping grounds at four facility locations and repairing leaky water pumps, valves, backflow preventers, fire lines, tanks and fire pumps.   
  • Utilizing a utility company’s direct install program to replace shower heads and faucet aerators.  

An estimated 15.8 million gallons of water use in FY18 were attributed to leaks that were reduced to 4.6 million gallons in FY19.    

"The 63rd RD discovered a wide-scale solution to decrease water consumption while increasing stewardship of resources," said Jef Ferrell, Services/Energy Programs Manager at the 63rd RD. “Most importantly, our efforts directly support Army Reserve water conservation and resiliency efforts. As we modernize our facilities and ensure they operate without disruption, our Soldiers can remain focused on achieving the mission." 

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