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GSA Announces New Steps Toward Building Green

GSA #9601

August 26, 1999
Contact: April Kaufman 202/501-1231

WASHINGTON, DC -- Signaling a stronger commitment to the environment, the U.S. General Services
Administration (GSA) announced major steps it will take in the design, construction, and repair and alteration of federal buildings which will seal the federal government's place as one of the leaders in "building green."

"Building green is a fundamental responsibility that all building owners must shoulder. Building green is another key way in which GSA is becoming a world leader in public real estate," said Robert A. Peck, Commissioner of GSA's Public Buildings Service (PBS). "Complementing our award-winning programs in architectural design, energy conservation, and recycling, our building green program will assure that we meet the challenges of creating a sustainable built environment."

GSA Administrator Dave Barram said, "I am proud of the commitment that GSA's Public Buildings Service has made to protecting the environment. We are in a strong position to be a role model for other federal agencies."

In a memo to PBS employees, Peck said that building green strives to use resources efficiently, to take advantage of the climatic and geographic opportunities of specific locations, and to maximize use of existing community resources and infrastructures.

According to Barram, this step is one of the most significant that GSA has taken to support President Clinton's Executive Order 13123 on Greening the Government Through Efficient Energy Management and Executive Order 13101 on Greening the Government Through Waste Prevention, Recycling and Federal Acquisition. The changes come as GSA is implementing "Planet GSA," the agency's environmental initiative that highlights building green and other areas in which GSA has a federal responsibility.

This ambitious undertaking will unfold in three phases, focusing on increasing the use of recycled materials, waste management and sustainable design:

1. Increase Recycled Materials: GSA will immediately increase the use of building, construction, and landscape materials with recycled content for projects over $100,000.

2. Waste Management: Construction and demolition waste management will be incorporated into capital projects to minimize waste, while maximizing material reuse and recycling. By October 1, each of GSA's 11 regions will identify one project where construction or demolition waste management can be used in fiscal year 2000.

3. Sustainable Design: GSA will incorporate sustainable design principles into the planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of buildings. Sustainable design considers the interrelationship between a building, the building occupants, the components, and the surrounding environment. Sustainable design principles address energy efficiency and renewable energy, site and transportation issues, resource conservation and recycling, indoor environmental quality, the local community, and building operations and maintenance. For example, sustainable design includes the selection of the site and the consideration of community infrastructure, such as the site's accessibility to mass transit, pedestrian pathways, and bicycle paths; landscaping to minimize upkeep and dependence on water, herbicides, and pesticides; selecting energy efficient designs and technologies; and reducing waste generated during construction. It also means using recycled content products such as insulation, cement and concrete, latex paint, carpeting made from plastic bottles, and restroom partitions in the building itself. Projects for the fiscal year 2002 planning cycle will focus on sustainable features.

GSA has completed several projects using sustainable design principles, with others on the way. The new Denver Courthouse annex will incorporate a number of sustainable features designed in from the start, while the newly built EPA Headquarters Building in Kansas City, MO., is considered an "off-the-shelf" green building, meaning it features products and technologies that are commercially available at no additional cost.

Moreover, building green and especially employing sustainable design principles will serve to promote Vice President Al Gore and President Bill Clinton's "Livability Agenda". As the Vice President has said himself - "These issues touch the lives of every American. And when we consider what is at stake - our economic strength, our public safety, our air and water and open spaces, the well-being of our families, and our very sense of community - we realize that this is one of the real challenges our nation faces in the 21st Century."