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GSA Celebrates Earth Day 2011

Earth Day Events Show GSA's Desire to Make Government Green

By Steven Smith
General Services Administration

WASHINGTON, April 22, 2011 – A host of Earth Day-related events across the country this week demonstrate GSA's commitment to protecting the planet by making the federal government environmentally sustainable.

GSA Administrator Martha N. Johnson kicked off the week on April 18 by meeting with business and academia leaders in Seattle to discuss how sustainable building practices are good for business as well as the environment.

“GSA has been leading the way on building practices that are helping to boost our clean-energy economy, reduce our energy consumption, and save taxpayer dollars,” Johnson said.

On April 20, Johnson headed to Bellevue, Wash., to see first-hand how the city is implementing electric-vehicle charging stations, and how GSA can better incorporate electric vehicles into the federal fleet.

“It’s great to be here in Bellevue, kicking off the Charging Ahead with Electric Vehicles Workshop,” Johnson said during her opening remarks. “When the president declared in his State of the Union address that he expects to see 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015, he was serious.”

Also on April 20, Stephen R. Leeds, senior counselor to the administrator, attended the Green Building Focus 2011 Conference in Charlotte, N.C., where he extolled the virtues of GSA's green initiatives.

"At GSA, sustainability is an environmental philosophy, a management philosophy, taxpayer dollar stewardship, and a budget imperative," he said.

Also this week, GSA was recognized as one of three federal agencies to achieve "all green" on the White House's Office of Management and Budget sustainability rankings.

"I am pleased to say that GSA is well on its way toward meeting our sustainability goals and ultimately establishing a zero environmental footprint for the agency.” Johnson said.

Back in Washington, D.C., GSA, the Department of the Interior, and the Office of Personnel Management co-hosted Earth Day 2011 in Rawlins Park on April 20. More than 400 federal employees and visitors attended the day of environmental and health-related exhibits, giveaways, green products, games, music, and alternative-fuel vehicles.

GSA's regions also had a busy schedule during Earth Week. Here are few highlights:

– Employees in GSA's Northwest/Arctic Region celebrated Earth Week by instructing children from the Building Blocks Child Care on how to grow gardens. Regional Administrator George Northcroft held a reception for all employees to demonstrate a new LED, or light-emitting diode, system, and the Seattle Service Center handed out compact fluorescent lights and garden seeds to their tenants. The Juneau Field Office prepared Earth Day coloring books for the children in its child care center. In addition, 200 printers were taken offline in the regional headquarters building to reduce the person-to-printer ratio from three people per printer to 14 people per printer.

– The Northeast and Caribbean Region held an Earth Day informational fair for the building's federal community at the Jacob K. Javits Federal Building in New York. The event featured displays and information from a number of GSA contractors on their environmentally sustainable goods and services. As part of other festivities, children in the region's child care centers planted seeds and seedling trees on building grounds, and the region hosted an electronic waste recycling day in Newark, N.J. Also, the region and its custodial contractor offered to work alongside information technology personnel to collect obsolete electronic equipment for shipping to a local recycle facility.

– The New England Region celebrated Earth Day by showcasing the newly installed solar array roof panels at the Thomas P. O’Neill Jr. Federal Building in Boston. The celebration also included the unveiling of a sustainability quilt, formed by pledges of GSA employees to be more eco-friendly. Tenants also turned in old cell phones and batteries to GSA for proper disposal. Additionally, U.S. Rep. John Larson of Connecticut joined Regional Administrator Robert Zarnetske on a tour to see the new roof technology at the William R. Cotter Federal Building in Hartford. In Manchester, N.H., Property Manager David Johnson, his green team members and Janitorial Services contractors at the Norris Cotton Federal Building engaged in numerous Earth Day activities.

– The Southeast Sunbelt Region's Federal Acquisition Service held a program titled Spring Green Fashion Show. Participants modeled fashions in a variety of categories, with descriptive narration highlighting each model's earth-friendly suggestion for ZEF living. The event was in conjunction with “A Billion Acts of Green" event that featured sustainability displays from local vendors and agencies. The region is also conducting a clothing drive for the Atlanta Women's Shelter.

– The Mid-Atlantic Region held an Earth Day event at the William J. Green Jr. Federal Building in Philadelphia. The event highlighted sustainable products and information. Displays included solar and vegetative roofs, composting, tire retread and repair information, a farmer's market, a hybrid car, and free electronics recycling collection. Along with the Green Center of Central Pennsylvania, GreenWorks Development and Pennsylvania Power & Light Electric Utilities, the Mid-Atlantic Region hosted presenters and more than 20 exhibitors focused on sustainability at an event in Harrisburg. The event raised awareness of ways to go green and insight into GSA’s commitment to sustainability. Architects shared practices on how to develop a sustainability program for a business.

– The Pacific Rim Region held three Earth Day events this week to raise awareness of activities to protect the environment. The region's green team kicked off the celebration with an event at the San Francisco Federal Building, where 70 elementary students learned about the environment and protecting endangered species. Attendees and building tenants also visited more than 20 vendors set up in the lobby to provide information on green products and services. The region's Laguna Niguel team held an Earth Day and Tenant Appreciation Celebration at the Chet Holifield Federal Building in Orange County, Calif., which showcased the new solar array that recently became fully operational. And the Access Green Store and Resource Center hosted a special event that explored how workplace awareness of environmental issues can help organizations optimize space and furnishings to improve workflow and performance.

Earth Day was started in 1970 by U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin to increase awareness and appreciation for the Earth's natural environment.

View Earth Day photo gallery>>

View photo gallery of Electric Car event>>

View photo gallery of Seattle event>>

GSA Master Gardener Helps Reduce Courthouse Operating Costs 

photo: Rick Falzone

Sustainability has been part of Rich 
Falzone’s life since boyhood, and he was recently selected as an energy champion, the second from the Great Lakes Region.

By Neil Omansky
Great Lakes Region
General Services Administration

HAMMOND, Ind., April 22, 2011 – You may have seen the smiling face of GSA's Great Lakes Region's Rich Falzone on posters in federal buildings across the country.

A property manager at the U.S. Courthouse in Hammond, Ind., Falzone was recently named a national "energy champion" as part of the Department of Energy's "You Have the Power" campaign. The campaign is designed to help federal agencies reach their energy-saving goals, and to encourage federal agencies to develop employee awareness and outreach programs.

Falzone was selected after reducing his courthouse's energy use by 43 percent and water use by 5 million gallons. He's the second energy champion from the Great Lakes Region, the first being Robert Bausch. GSA has had 32 energy champions since the program started in 1997.

“The government should lead by example,” said Falzone. “We have to be better than the private industry because we’re using the people’s money. My tenants are taxpayers, too, and they expect a level of care.”

Largely because of the efforts of Falzone, Fred Peller, and the entire property management team in Hammond, the courthouse has also earned Energy Star designation and numerous public accolades, including a Building Owners and Managers Association's 360 Performance designation and the region’s first Earth Award as The Outstanding Building of the Year. To earn BOMA 360, a building must “be managed to the highest standards of excellence” in operations, life safety, security, training, energy, sustainability, tenant relations, and community involvement. The TOBY Earth Award requires demonstrating environmental awareness and energy-efficiency as judged by indoor air quality, recycling, green purchasing, and energy and water conservation.

“Rich has such an incredible passion for his work … and is personally vested in the stewardship of the property, particularly the sustainability aspect,” said his supervisor, Diana Vaughan, Director of GSA's Greater Chicagoland Service Center.

Regional Commissioner David Hood agrees: “What makes Rich an energy champion? His exuberance. He thrives on opportunities to teach and inspire others to respect the planet and value its resources.”

And his newest “tenants” are actually helping with the effort. Falzone moved worms into the courthouse in 2010, using them to decompose vegetable or food waste to fertilize area trees.

Sustainability has been part of Falzone’s life since boyhood, a time when gardening and horticulture became his place of refuge. This passion has now become part of his work, with the grounds surrounding the courthouse in Hammond serving as a testament to his skill as a master gardener and landscaper.

When Falzone first visited the site for the courthouse in the late 1990s, he said he knew he had to work there.

The site had 6.4 acres of dirt, real land that would allow him to try new things, he said.

“It was more like play than work, but it was important too," Falzone said. "People should expect our buildings to be the best. We’re using their money, so their buildings should be well-tended, sustainable, cost-effective, and beautiful.”

And his “play” has produced amazing results. More than 99 percent of tenants have rated the building and its services above satisfactory (four or higher on a five-point scale) for each of the building’s triennial surveys since it opened in 2002.

But Falzone’s humility shows when he added, “I’m just doing my job.”

“I’m not in this for anything other than to make a difference,” Falzone said. “When I can’t make a difference, it’s time to go.”

And make a difference he does. Falzone has shared his best practices on tenant satisfaction and energy improvement with his Public Buildings Service colleagues at the past few annual Facilities Management Conferences. He also trains many property management trainees in these areas.

Falzone has 36 years of government service, 31 with GSA. He received his master gardener certification from the University of Illinois in 2000 and maintains the certification through annual continuing education courses.

See Falzone's energy champion poster

Read about GSA's other energy champions