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News Releases

News Releases from Region 09

U.S. EPA honors two Federal Green Challenge winners in Southern California

Agencies save taxpayers’ money and promote efficiency

Contact Information: 
Alejandro Diaz (

SAN DIEGO – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes federal facilities for conserving resources and saving taxpayers’ money as part of the Federal Green Challenge. The challenge is a national effort under the EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management Program, which encourages federal agencies to lead by example in reducing the federal government's environmental impact.

In Southern California, EPA is recognizing two top performers with Federal Green Challenge awards for their significant efforts in improving the efficiency of their facilities in fiscal year 2018 (FY18) – the U.S. Postal Service in San Diego and the Drug Enforcement Administration Southwest Laboratory in Vista.

“EPA is recognizing facilities across the federal government for their leadership in improving waste management, conserving water, and other important efforts to improve environmental outcomes,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Their accomplishments not only reduce the federal government’s impact on the environment but also save taxpayers millions of dollars.”

“We salute our federal partners in the Pacific Southwest who have developed comprehensive and innovative programs this year,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker.

United States Postal Service, Pacific Area (San Diego, Calif.)

Purchasing Award

Purchasing recycled products keeps valuable materials out of landfills and incinerators while creating U.S. jobs to recycle and manufacture products like recycled copy paper.

In FY18, the U.S. Postal Service, Pacific Area – serving California, Hawaii and U.S. Pacific Islands –  purchased over 27.7 million pounds of paper with 49% average recycled content. This was a significant increase over the prior year’s 35% average recycled content paper purchased. Producing recycled paper also uses significantly less energy than producing paper from wood.

Using EPA’s Waste Reduction Model, USPS’s 2018 recycled paper purchasing, compared to purchasing the same amount of paper without recycled content, used 65,700 Million BTU less energy. This is equal to conserving more than 545,438 gallons of gasoline or more than 700 households’ annual energy use.

“I’m glad we can use recycled paper products,” said USPS Technician Paulette Keller, who is responsible for ordering copy paper for the district’s needs. “It just makes so much sense.”  

Drug Enforcement Administration Southwest Laboratory (Vista, Calif.)

Innovation, Water, and Electronics Awards

The Southwest Laboratory hired an innovative building engineer to work on-site full-time and constantly monitor the building’s use of resources, resulting in an incredible 41% reduction in water use (from 61,336 gallons in 2017 down to 35,904 gallons in 2018).

Repairing leaks and optimizing the facility’s cooling and heating needs by using fewer boilers and chillers resulted in reduced water use. One of the boilers in use was turned off, except for very cold days. Similarly, the three chillers used to cool water for the building were reduced to just one chiller, or two on very hot days. Turning off the boilers and chillers also minimized equipment wear-and-tear and saved energy.

In addition, the lab increased electronics donations by 18% and certified electronics recycling by 41% in 2018, with a total of 1,660 pounds donated and 2,340 pounds recycled.

“We have had a very active Environmental Management System program for some time and have greatly benefited from our participation in the Federal Green Challenge to address our strategic goals.  We appreciate and value EPA Region 9 for acknowledging our efforts in this area,” said DEA Southwest Laboratory Director James Malone. “The enormous savings in water usage show that by having a staff dedicated to continuous improvement, even the smallest things can add up to produce a huge impact.

In FY18, Federal Green Challenge participants across the nation reduced their environmental impact throughout the waste stream process, including:

  • Sending more than 235 tons of end-of-life electronics to third-party certified recyclers.
  • Reducing transportation costs by more than $23 million.
  • Using approximately 536 million fewer gallons of potable water.
  • Decreasing paper purchasing by nearly 2,800 pounds.
  • Diverting an estimated 675,000 tons of waste from landfills.

For more information on the Federal Green Challenge and this year’s winners, please visit

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