Leading the (green) way


Federal agencies having a tough time meeting the plethora of green government mandates should take a close look at the 15 federal teams who have been recognized this year for spearheading environmentally sustainable practices at their agencies.

Winners of the 2009 White House Closing the Circle Awards — handed out Wednesday during the middle of the three-day 2009 Federal Environmental Symposium East in Bethesda, Md. –  are demonstrating best practices in areas such as recycling, green purchasing and fuel conservation.

The big winner was the Air Force, which received four awards for initiatives under way at local bases and headquarters. The Environmental Protection Agency’s regional office in Denver was the biggest individual winner, taking home two awards.

A complete list of the winners — along with some of their accomplishments — is after the jump.

Environmental management systems

Defense Supply Center, Richmond, Va.
Why it won: Increased number of alternative fuel vehicles, cut energy use in half by replacing florescent lights, contracted for a greenhouse gas emissions study

Federal Aviation Administration’s Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center, Oklahoma City, Okla.
Why it won: Reduced non-hazardous industrial waste by recycling cardboard, cut gasoline use by purchasing electric vehicles and driving less, cut water consumption


Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas
Why it won: Diverted more than 8,000 tons of solid waste in 2008 through recycling and reuse programs, saving base more than $1 million

General Services Administration’s National Capital Region, Washington, D.C.
Why it won: Recycled 8,400 tons of paper and 283 tons of cans and bottles in 2008, saving 27,300 cubic yards of landfill space

Alternative fuel and fuel conservation in transportation

Air Force’s Material Support Division, Washington, D.C.
Why it won: Purchased more than 1,000 low speed electric vehicles in 2008 and opened four new E-85 refueling stations

Treasury Department, Washington, D.C.
Why it won: Last year, cut overall fuel use by 2.6 percent, increased alternative fuel use by 1.8 percent, reduced total miles driven by 3.1 percent and cut number of vehicles by 4 percent

Water/pollution prevention

Army’s Fort Hood, Texas
Why it won: Established a community program for recycling electronics at the base, eliminating more than 320,000 pounds of electronic waste from entering landfills, and saved $150,000 by collecting used fuel and oil for recycling

Energy Department’s Y-12 National Security Complex, Oak Ridge, Tenn.
Why it won: Saved $277,000 in operating expenses by replacing Freon with non-ozone depleting solvent for chip cleaning operations and saved $800,000 in disposal costs by developing new crusher operation for drums contaminated from radioactive waste

Green purchasing

Robins Air Force Base, Ga.
Why it won: Purchased $610,000 in green products last year and saved $160,000 by using a paint gun filtration system for F-15 aircraft that reduces waste solvent usage by 83 percent

U.S. Postal Service, Washington, D.C.
Why it won: Rolled out new agencywide green purchasing plan and purchased about $90 million in recycled or environmentally preferable products in 2008

Electronics stewardship

Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 8 Office, Denver, Colo.
Why it won: Recycles 100 percent of non-reusable electronic equipment, which in 2008 saved 2.4 million kilowatt hours of electricity, cut 190,000 kilograms of greenhouse gases and reduced 13,400 kilograms of solid waste

Sustainable design/green buildings

Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.
Why it won: Air Force Weather Agency headquarters building earned the Air Force’s first gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program

Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 8 Office, Denver, Colo.
Why it won: New regional headquarters building was certified gold by LEED by incorporating features such as a vegetative roof and an under-floor air distribution system

Sowing the Seeds for Change innovation award

Forest Service Deer River Ranger District, Chippewa National Forest, Minn.
Why it won: Made a reality television program to demonstrate how employees can work together to green their operations, generating ideas that have saved $32,000 to date

National Institutes of Health Office of Research Facilities, Bethesda, Md.
Why it won: Developed a protocol for safely handling hazardous materials during laboratory demolition projects that allows hazardous materials to be captured and non-hazardous materials to be recycled


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