Green Buildings Vision and Policy Statement
In This Section
In order to maintain leadership in environmental protection, EPA must lead by example. Through sustainable design and construction of EPA facilities, the Agency will model responsible environmental behavior and help create the framework within which the building industry as a whole can shift towards practices that will promote "green buildings."
Green buildings are structures that incorporate the principles of sustainable design-design in which the impact of a building on the environment will be minimal over its lifetime. Green buildings incorporate principles of energy and resource efficiency, practical applications of waste reduction and pollution prevention, good indoor air quality and natural light to promote occupant health and productivity, and transportation efficiency in design and construction, during use and reuse.
Agency facilities, both new and existing, should serve as models for a healthy workplace with minimal environmental impacts. To achieve this goal, EPA will utilize both innovative, state-of-the-art technologies and a holistic approach to design, construction, renovation, and use. EPA will work with the private sector to identify opportunities for innovation and help create markets for both products and design concepts. Important considerations in the design, construction, and use of EPA-owned and -leased facilities include the following:
- Site planning that utilizes resources naturally occurring on the site, such as solar and wind energy, natural shading, native plant materials, topography, and drainage
- Location and programs to optimize use of existing infrastructure and transportation options, including the use of alternative work modes such as telecommuting and teleconferencing
- Use of recycled content and environmentally preferable construction materials and furnishings, consistent with EPA procurement guidelines
- Minimization of energy and materials waste throughout the building's life cycle, from design through demolition or reuse
- Design of the building envelope for energy efficiency
- Use of materials and design strategies to achieve optimal indoor environmental quality, particularly including light and air, to maximize health and productivity
- Operation systems and practices that support an integrated waste management system
- Recycling of building materials at demolition
- Management of water as a limited resource in site design, building construction, and building operations
- Utilization of solar and other renewable technologies, where appropriate
Evaluation of trade-offs is an important component of the design of green buildings. Where the goals of a green building are contradictory (e.g., increased ventilation vs. increased energy efficiency), the trade-offs must be evaluated in a holistic framework to achieve long-term benefits for the environment. Also, the physical considerations must be balanced with other policy objectives such as environmental justice, particularly with regard to site location. EPA anticipates that there may not always be single answers to recurring building issues, but the Agency will adopt a consistent approach to evaluating all buildings for sustainable design considerations.
Source: EPA's Environmental Procurement Strategy: EPA's Action Plan for Implementing Executive Order 12873 on Federal Acquisition, Recycling, and Waste Prevention, August 1995.