Federal Green Challenge

Recognizing Our Sustainable Materials Management Award Winners

By Rachel Chaput

EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Program represents a systemic approach to using and reusing materials more productively over their entire life cycles. It represents a change in how our society thinks about the use of natural resources and environmental protection. By looking at a product’s entire lifecycle, we can find new opportunities to reduce environmental impacts, conserve resources and reduce costs.

The group of winners all helping to divert solid waste from landfills. Keep up the great work!

The group of winners all helping to divert solid waste from landfills. Keep up the great work!

Each year, EPA issues SMM awards at the national and regional levels, to recognize our best performers within the program. On January 11, an awards ceremony was held at our Region 2 office in New York City, to distribute the awards.  Links to the award announcements can be found below.  Region 2 would like to announce our regional award and certificate winners for three SMM challenges, and thank them for their great efforts and contributions toward improving our environment and our lives.

The Food Recovery Challenge (FRC) Partners pledge to improve their sustainable food management practices and report their results. FRC Endorsers educate others about the value of the FRC program. Organizations are encouraged to follow the Food Recovery Hierarchy to prioritize their actions to prevent and divert wasted food. In 2015, Region 2 FRC partners diverted 30,077 tons of food from the landfill through their collective activities.

The EPA WasteWise program encourages organizations to achieve sustainability in their practices and to reduce select industrial wastes. Participants demonstrate how they reduce waste, practice environmental stewardship and incorporate sustainable materials management into their waste-handling processes. Region 2 WasteWise partners diverted 925,352 tons of municipal solid waste from landfills during 2015. Regional WasteWise winners:  Kearfott Corp., Curbell Inc., and Brown’s Superstores: Shoprite at Brooklawn.

The Federal Green Challenge (FGC) challenges EPA and other federal agencies throughout the country to lead by example in reducing the federal government’s environmental impact. In 2015, Region 2 FGC partners diverted 7,678 tons of municipal solid waste from the landfill, and saved 59,536,360 gallons of potable water and 18,371,639 kWh of energy through their conservation activities.

Click here for a list of the Food Recovery Challenge regional award winners (scroll down for Region 2): https://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food/food-recovery-challenge-results-and-award-winners#2016Regional

Region 2 has one national FRC winner, the Town and Village of New Paltz.  Follow the link and click on ‘Town of New Paltz’ for more information about New Paltz’s good work: https://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food/about-2016-food-recovery-challenge-award-winners.

Click here for both national and regional Federal Green Challenge Award winners: https://www.epa.gov/fgc/2016-federal-green-challenge-awards.

For information on WasteWise and national Award winners, visit: https://www.epa.gov/smm/wastewise#awards

About the Author: Rachel Chaput has worked with the Region 2 office of the US Environmental Protection Agency for 24 years.  Before working in Sustainable Materials Management, she worked in Indoor Air programs and managed the Asthma grants program for ten years. 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed herein are those of the author alone. EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog, nor does EPA endorse the opinions or positions expressed. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content. If you do make changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

The Federal Green Challenge – Working for a Better Tomorrow

By André Villaseñor

The motto of EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) program is “changing how we think about our resources for a better tomorrow.” One team of federal employees has been doing just that by changing the minds of colleagues through education and outreach.

The Chet Holifield Federal Building is a one-million square foot federal building in Laguna Niguel, California, occupied by 1900 federal employees representing about a dozen government agencies. The building is named after a long-term former member of Congress from California.  Through the creation of a “Green Team,” five of the building’s federal agencies are leading the charge toward moving Chet Holifield’s occupants in the direction of energy efficiency, water-use reductions and increased recycling. The Green Team, consisting of employees from Citizenship & Immigration Services, the Internal Revenue Service, and the General Services Administration was formed to carry out the goals of the Federal Green Challenge (FGC). The FGC is a national initiative of EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management Program, challenging EPA and other federal agencies to lead by example in reducing the Federal Government’s environmental impacts around the nation.

The Chet Holifield Green Team was pleasantly surprised to learn just how much they could reduce their building’s environmental impact through a series of cost-effective behavior change strategies. The Green Team pursued a multi-pronged strategy of engaging all 1900 building employees in a variety of educational activities designed to raise environmental awareness, including e-waste collection programs, informational posters, Earth Day/Week events, and training workshops. The ‘green’ education and outreach provided by the Green Team motivated and enabled employees to act more sustainably. The Green Team carefully measured the results of its progress on a monthly basis for a period of one year, both by tracking actual data on metrics such as electricity consumption and recycling, and collecting anecdotal information using employee surveys about activities such as commuting. I witnessed this diligence first-hand by participating in a series of Green Team phone calls with the employees of the Chet Holifield Federal Building.

Clearly, the Chet Holifield Green Team put into practice a winning equation of inspiration and cooperation that adds up to a better tomorrow. Chet Holifield’s end-of-year results for 2012 include a 21% increase in recycling, a water-use decrease of 7.4%, and a fuel decrease of 2.5%. Not only did the Green Team get the environmental results it was aiming for; Chet Holifield employees have changed the way they think about their use of resources, which holds great promise for a better tomorrow for Laguna Niguel and beyond.

About the author: André Villaseñor, a Waste Division employee, fulfills EPA’s mission from Region 9’s Southern CA Field Office in Los Angeles. He is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed herein are those of the author alone. EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog, nor does EPA endorse the opinions or positions expressed. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content. If you do make changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.