The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Rocky Mountain Region manages the Denver Federal Center (DFC), a 640-acre campus hosting 28 federal agencies and nearly 7,000 employees. It is the largest concentration of Federal agencies outside of Washington D.C. GSA leadership has envisioned a sustainable campus, where environmental performance improvements yield measurable business results. To establish a framework for reaching its vision and meeting its sustainability goals, GSA decided to implement an environmental management system (EMS) at DFC. As a vehicle for culture change and improved business practices, the GSA EMS is intended to lead to environmental "best practice" outcomes and result in measurable cost savings.
Geosyntec's Scope of Services
GSA retained Geosyntec in 2005 to develop a strategy for an EMS at DFC that would meet the requirements of both Executive Order 13148 (Greening the Government Through Leadership in Environmental Management) and an external standard (ISO 14001). The EMS needed to be a lean, dynamic system that would integrate into GSA DFC business practices. To accomplish this objective, Geosyntec first conducted a gap analysis comparing GSA environmental programs to the ISO 14001 standard. Next, Geosyntec developed an innovative structure for the EMS that established eight Action Teams, one for each of the GSA DFC environmental program areas and led by a GSA DFC business practice leader, e.g., Property Manager, Building Manager or Project Manager. The Action Team leaders have significant responsibilities in meeting customer needs in a cost-effective manner, while attaining environmental performance goals. In lieu of a traditional compliance-oriented environmental staff management approach, the GSA EMS is driven by business line leaders. This shift in organizational structure has led to a seamless EMS implementation effort. GSA DFC environmental program staff administer the system, while Action Team leaders focus on their business practices.
With the implementation of the DFC EMS and resulting performance improvements, GSA Rocky Mountain Region leadership elected to implement a region-wide Sustainability & Environmental Management System (SEMS) to meet its sustainability goals, using the Denver Federal Center EMS as a template. Geosyntec, working hand-in-hand with the GSA team, conducted an SEMS planning charrette to begin building regional consensus on the SEMS goals, framework, and content. Following the charrette, Geosyntec developed an organizational structure based on Action Teams, developed a 12-month implementation plan, and developed website content for Action Team environmental management plans, performance metrics, operational controls, and training materials for GSA associates, contractors and tenants.
The GSA DFC Action Teams (air emissions, construction demolition, energy use, building maintenance, site remediation, stormwater management, waste, and water use) have been established for "greening" this government facility, and have already achieved measurable improvements in environmental performance and cost savings. For example, GSA DFC installed low-flow plumbing equipment to reduce water consumption and wastewater treatment costs, including over 500 new toilets that reduced water per flush by nearly 70% and a retrofit of 500 sink faucets with flow restrictors. These plumbing improvements yield annual cost savings of $50,444. Operating in conjunction with demolition of eight buildings and two concrete slabs, GSA DFC seized the opportunity to reduce off-site waste disposal costs by recycling 500 porcelain toilets along with demolition materials as aggregate. GSA DFC recycled 75,000 tons of material as backfill and road base material on-site, yielding a cost savings of $37,125. In addition, this recycling program benefited the community by avoiding environmental and socioeconomic impacts due to extensive truck traffic. In October, the new GSA EMS at DFC won the "2006 GSA Achievement Award for Real Property Innovation in Sustainability" out of a pool of 18 submissions representing properties in nearly every major branch of federal government.