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DOD Paving Materials Highlight Environmental Attributes

At a Glance

Environmental Attributes:

Contract Language:
Worksheets outlining environmental nature of the contract are available in the back of a case study on this project, Paving the Road to Success.

Key players:
Department of Defense facility management staff and Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program staff.

Environmental Information Sources:
Harris Industrial Directory, Thomas Directory, and the National Park Service's Sustainable Design and Construction Database

The contractor has used 9,815 tons of recycled asphalt; 2,971 tons of recycled concrete; 410 cubic yards of concrete containing recovered materials; 3,558 linear feet of recovered glass for reflective surfaces; 8,420 linear feet of asphalt sealer containing crumb rubber; 79,141 linear feet of paint containing 50 grams per liter of VOCs; 24,324 square feet of low VOC concrete curing compound; and 5,200 linear feet of recovered content asphalt joint sealant.

Contact Information:
Listed at the end of the case study.

In June 1997, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) awarded a contract to repair and maintain its parking lots and access roads at four Washington, DC, area facilities. Unlike similar previous contracts, this 5-year, $1 million-per-year project required the contractor to use products with enhanced environmental attributes that also met DOD's traditional price and performance specifications. During the first 15 months of the contract, the contractor used products with environmental attributes to pave 227,934 square feet of parking lots and roadways. Compared to traditional products, the contractor's products have increased recycled-content percentages, reduced volatile organic compound (VOC) levels, and lowered overall toxicity. DOD did not sacrifice cost or performance to achieve its environmentally preferable purchasing goals. In fact, the cost was less than similar, traditional paving products with equivalent performance.


In developing the contract, DOD worked extensively with EPA to consider alternative approaches for promoting the use of environmental products. Initially, the team considered developing a list of "approved products" the contractor should use. This method, however, placed the burden of researching, testing, and updating the environmental products on the two agencies, neither of which had the available resources. Instead, DOD and EPA used publicly available information from sources such as the Harris Directory Exit Disclaimer, Thomas Directory Exit Disclaimer, and the National Park Service's Sustainable Design and Construction Database to identify initial baseline environmental features such as low levels of VOCs and high percentages of recycled content for the products required by the contract.

Based on the information collected through this research, the team created category-specific surveys to gather additional environmental information from potential suppliers. The information was used to develop worksheets listing the baseline environmental attributes and performance requirements for each of 20 product categories, representing 90 percent of the materials used for repair and maintenance of the parking lots. As an incentive to find products with the highest number of environmental attributes from the worksheets that also meet DOD's performance requirements, the contract includes a 2 percent price differential for each environmental attribute present in the products used by the contractor. For example, if the contractor found an asphalt product that satisfied the mandatory requirements and also contained more than 25 percent recycled asphalt, the contractor can receive a 2 percent bonus. DOD evaluated the contractors' abilities to find such environmental products, along with price and performance standards, when awarding the contract.

To find these environmental products, the contractor conducted an extensive Internet search and queried numerous contacts and suppliers in the road construction industry. The search, which was easier than the contractor expected, revealed several products that exceeded DOD's requirements. The environmental products worked just as well, if not better, than many traditional products. In fact, the contractor is using some of these products on other jobs, even in cases where environmental products are not required.

Current Status

As of April 1999, the DOD contractor had used:

Additionally, the contractor recycled 7,055 tons of milled asphalt.

Lessons Learned

The DOD parking lot repair and maintenance contract was one of the first attempts by a federal agency to incorporate environmentally preferable purchasing principles into contract specifications. The most important lessons learned as a result of this effort include:

For more information about DOD's parking lot contract, contact Bob Cox of DOD at 703 693-3765 or rcox@osd.pentagon.mil. Click here to read Paving the Road to Success, the full EPP case study documenting DOD's parking lot pilot project.

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