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HUD Region VIII Transforms Government and Leads in Energy Efficiencies

[Photo: Faith Ballenger and Lyle Konkol, checking out new car]
Is this for real? Faith Ballenger and Lyle Konkol of the Helena Field Office, checking out new GSA car.

During his first meeting with employees and program directors, Regional Administrator Rick M. Garcia explained his mission to transform Region VIII operations and the way employees do business. He asked each Region VIII staff member to look and find ways to reduce the carbon foot print in our Region. Regional Administrator Garcia specifically requested, as his first action, to convert all leased General Services Administration (GSA) vehicles to be hybrids.

Just one year later, Region VIII leads HUD's efforts to find energy efficiencies and implement green policies. HUD Region VIII is the first Region to receive new all hybrid vehicle replacements from GSA. "Our GSA contacts and Office of Human Capital Field Support (HCFS) staff jumped through administrative hurdles to transform government so all Region VIII employees will drive energy efficient vehicles to and from events throughout their states," said Rick Garcia. This action alone is anticipated to save at least $2,800 in travel funds in the first full year and a 50% reduction in carbon emissions.

The second impressive step was to review energy consumption and cost per month for HUD office space. Mike Westra, Regional Support Manager, HCFS, researched the costs by month to see what the seasonal effects are on the HUD offices energy consumption and to find our energy and cost savings. Mr. Westra both pushed for and then verified the building where HUD leases space for the Denver Regional Office received a LEED Silver certification.

The 1670 Broadway management team has taken numerous steps to receive the LEED Silver certification. They installed a dual compactor with a flex divider that accepts both trash and recycling in one compactor which eliminates the need for two compactors; this saves energy and space. In addition, they implemented single stream advanced recycling for HUD and all other tenants. The building has a white membrane roof that is highly reflective which helps divert the sun's solar energy, reducing cooling costs. In addition, the building operates with variable frequency drives on eight main supply fans, the cooling tower fans and domestic water pump; this ensures the equipment is not running more than needed and results in reduced electrical costs.

The building is cleaned using a strict green cleaning policy to maintain a clean facility and healthy environment. They have installed sub-meters for quantifying utility consumption by tenant and modified operations to remove Saturday mornings from the normal business operating schedule. The building's management contracted to install energy monitoring devices to measure energy consumption and make appropriate operational modifications. They retro-fitted faucets, toilets and urinals to water efficient fixtures. In addition, they installed exterior planters using a high efficiency drip tube to provide irrigation. The building also installed high efficiency HVAC (Heating Ventilation, Air Conditioning) filters. All these modifications have also lowered costs for both the building and HUD.

"A key benefit for our employees are the new bike racks," said Garcia. "The building increased bike rack availability by 200% so our employees can easily park their transportation wheels safely as they enter the building and come to work."

Anticipated new features that 1670 Broadway management will install are occupancy sensors in all restrooms and floor sensors in common areas.

All these features are in line with sustainable communities and principles, and environmentally friendly policies--both in our office and space and in the bigger picture--that most of our workers support and enjoy. We have fewer indoor air issues and these changes have saved the government money. The energy consumption and costs after the upgrades indicate a 9.8% improvement that HUD and the whole building have benefited from.

HUD employees are doing our part to reduce waste by participating in three very important ways. First, employees actively use the building desk side single stream recycling program, designed to get recyclable materials diverted from the landfills easily. Acceptable items include all paper, plastic, cardboard, glass and aluminum all in one recycling bin. Secondly, HUD actively participates in the building's annual free electronic recycling. Third, light bulbs that are no longer usable are crushed and sent to an off-site facility for recycling.

Finally, Mr. Garcia and Mr. Westra have implemented greener procurement of supplies, furniture and equipment. All new equipment is energy star compliant. We are changing from white envelopes to manila envelopes. Manila envelopes are more cost efficient and better for the environment while white envelopes are bleached through the use of hazardous chemicals; manila has 80% recycled content and requires fewer chemicals to create. HCFS will soon offer more mechanical pencils and pens that allow refills. Using these pencils and pens helps reduces waste. Each employee is provided with 4 ounce hand sanitizer bottles, but these can add up, so now HCFS carries an economy size hand sanitizer bottle (67 ounce) where employees can simply refill their existing bottle. The HCFS teams works with other work units to set up copying and printing settings to double sided pages, instead of single page copies. With employees printing and copying many documents throughout the day, this is an cost effective and simple solution. Environmentally friendly products come from one of our largest and newest green suppliers. These products maintain a green standard throughout. A sample of some of the green products we carry are:

  • Writing Instruments: 80% post-consumer waste and 83% total recycled content by weight.
  • Binders: Board is 100% recycled with 30% post-consumer waste. Rings are 20% recycled post-consumer waste. Total binder is 52% recycled.
  • Wall Hanging Files: Made using 100% recycled plastic with a minimum of 25% post-consumer waste.
  • Portfolio Writing Pads: Made from 50% recycled and 30% post-consumer materials.

We also strongly encourage re-use of supplies when feasible.

Mr. Garcia and Mr. Westra have designated both Yvonne Flores and Christy Fredrick as the HCFS internal sustainable point persons to further expand Region VIII's efforts. They will act as facilitators and consultants in partnership with our employees to promote greater green activities inside our office space and procure more green products. Region VIII HUD will continue to partner with building management, GSA, and our vendors to ensure we are doing are part to have a more sustainable and cost effective office environment.

"I'm proud Region VIII employees stepped up and found significant ways to safeguard our environment and save money. We've made significant progress in the past year," said Garcia. "I look forward to what our employees find and research next to help reduce our carbon footprint."


Content Archived: October 24, 2013

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