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GSA Rolls Out "Planet GSA"Agency Initiative Focuses on Buying, Building, Driving, and Saving Green

GSA #9511

August 20, 1998
Contact: April Kaufman
202/501-1231


WASHINGTON, DC -- The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) this week continues to roll out Planet GSA, the agency's nationwide initiative to protect the environment, with events in New York and Atlanta. GSA Administrator David Barram, who introduced the program earlier this year on Earth Day, said that Planet GSA focuses on four interrelated areas in which GSA has a federal responsibility - "buying green," "building green," "driving green," and "saving green."

"With the help of Planet GSA as a rallying point, we will meet President Clinton's environmental challenge," said Barram. "We're partnering with the public and private sector to test new technologies and develop new strategies to protect the environment. We're doing away with the myth that protecting the environment is not good economics. GSA has shown that it is possible - and makes good business sense - to protect the environment and save money at the same time."

GSA's mission is to provide expertly managed space, products, services, solutions, and policy leadership, at best value, to enable federal employees to accomplish their missions. GSA complies with and promotes environmental policies within each of these areas.

"Planet GSA and other partnerships can help educate and inform employees and the general public about what the federal government is doing to combat climate change, and more importantly, empower them to take a personal part in protecting the environment," said Kathleen McGinty, Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. "These partnerships are excellent examples of how well government works when agencies collaborate to help protect the environment. Furthermore, they are a very good example of how protecting the environment can lead to significant savings for the taxpayer as well."

Buying Green

To help other federal agencies comply with environmental laws, regulations and Executive Orders, GSA offers thousands of environmentally-oriented products and services. The agency's Environmental Products Guide alone contains over 3,000 items. Among those items are energy-efficient appliances and office products, as well as "Energy Star" computers and printers. Moreover, GSA offers paints, cleaners, and other products that have been reformulated to be less environmentally detrimental.

In support of President Clinton's Executive Order 12873 on Recycled Paper Content, GSA sells copy paper with no less than 20 percent post-consumer content and writing paper with a minimum of 50 percent post-consumer content.

Together, sales of GSA's environmentally-oriented products generated more than $400 million in fiscal year 1997.

GSA also manages a nationwide recycling program for 643,000 Federal employees in 1,044 federal buildings. In fiscal year 1997 alone, GSA collected and sold 41,260 tons of paper, aluminum cans, glass, and packing materials. According to Barram, sales of this material generated $261,000, and GSA saved $3.8 million in trash removal fees and landfill charges.

Building Green

GSA is beginning to incorporate sustainable principles in the design, construction, modernization and disposal of federal buildings. The agency's commitment to "building green" runs the spectrum from retrofitting historic buildings with energy-efficient lights to designing and building the federal courthouse in Denver, which GSA plans to use as a model for sustainable buildings in the future.

Sustainable design means creating environmentally sound and resource-efficient buildings. It includes the site's accessibility to mass transit, pedestrian pathways, and bicycle paths; landscaping with indigenous plants to minimize upkeep and dependence on water, herbicides, and pesticides; 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.

Driving Green

GSA "drives green" with its use and procurement of alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) and promotion of teleworking.
AFVs run on ethanol, methanol, natural gas or electricity, thereby reducing dependence on foreign oil. AFVs also emit fewer greenhouse gasses and pollute less than conventional gasoline-powered vehicles. The Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPAct) requires the federal government to procure large numbers of AFVs. EPAct requires that, in 1998, 50 percent of the government's new vehicles in America's largest cities be AFVs. In 1999, the mandate will increase to 75 percent of new purchases.

GSA facilitates the federal government's implementation of EPAct through its governmentwide vehicle policy, acquisition, and management functions. GSA has purchased more AFVs from auto manufacturers than any other organization in the country. According to Barram, GSA has purchased approximately 18,500 AFVs for federal agencies since 1991. GSA's interagency fleet management system operates more than 8,000 AFVs. This aggressive procurement has allowed GSA to exceed EPAct requirements. EPAct required 33 percent of new vehicle acquisitions in 1997 to be AFVs; 42 percent of the new vehicles purchased by GSA were AFVs.

To conserve fuel and reduce air pollution, GSA promotes teleworking. GSA makes it easier for its employees to telework from home, from 18 telecommuting centers, or from wherever they happen to be with a computer and cellular phone.

Saving Green

GSA "saves green" by overseeing an innovative energy and water management program that reduces utility costs, protects the environment, and ensures quality workspace for clients. Since 1985, GSA has cut energy use in federal buildings by 17.1 percent. GSA estimates that its energy conservation measures in federal buildings have kept 130 billion pounds of carbon dioxide - the equivalent of the carbon dioxide emitted from all the passenger cars in Los Angeles County over the past two years - from entering the atmosphere.

GSA uses energy-efficient lighting and equipment, has added energy management control systems, and tests new technologies. The Department of Energy has named four GSA buildings "Showcase Buildings" because of the energy-efficient or renewable energy technologies they use.

Regional Rollouts

Each of GSA's 11 regions is having a Planet GSA rollout that will focus on GSA's local environmental roles and partnerships. Kansas City has already kicked off Planet GSA in the Midwest. Regional rollouts to follow in cities across America are:

September 24 - Denver, Colorado
October 1 - Chicago, Illinois
October 5 - Forth Worth, Texas
October 14 - Portland, Oregon
October 22 - Oakland, California
December 7 - Washington, DC
To be announced - Boston, Massachusetts
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania