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EPA Region 3's GreenLease Rider

At a Glance

Environmental Attributes:
The renovation of EPA Region 3's offices incorporated:

Contract Language:
Not available online.

Key players:
Staff from the following offices worked together to include the green rider in the lease:

Region 3 saved more than $900,000 due to the high levels of reuse mandated in the Greenlease rider.

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

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 3's goal in finding new office space was to demonstrate to businesses and organizations the viability of developing commercial and institutional space without sacrificing environmentally preferable purchasing (EPP) considerations. In cooperation with the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and EPA Headquarters, Region 3 successfully included environmental criteria in its solicitation for remodeled office space in an existing building in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and in the process saved more than $900,000. The criteria, known as the GreenLease rider, required all prospective lessors to do the following when remodeling the office space: reuse as many materials as practical; recycle as much construction and demolition debris as economically feasible; and use low environmental impact materials in the process. In addition, Region 3 restricted the solicitation to lessors in Philadelphia's central business district to promote the use of public transportation by staff.

Region 3 announced the award of the lease in November 1997 and began designing and retrofitting the offices to support a staff of 1,200. Employees occupied the building in the summer of 1998, inhabiting 16 of the 27 floors.

Use of Environmentally Preferable Products

Care was taken to salvage and reuse as many materials as possible from the existing space. Some examples of these environmentally preferable practices include the following:

In cases where items could not be reused, efforts were made to recycle. All steel studs, for example, were removed and recycled, along with 11,000 low-efficiency fluorescent tubes.

Several environmental considerations also were taken into account in designing the interior space for the new regional office. Modular furniture was installed to enhance flexibility and reduce the need to furnish individual offices. To maintain indoor air quality, low-emission paints and adhesives were used during construction and no vinyl materials (such as floor or wall covering and cove molding) were installed. In addition, no endangered tropical woods were used in construction, or on furniture or accents. Electronic light sensors were installed to automatically turn off lights in areas not being used.

Even the location of the new space was environmentally preferable. The decision to locate close to a major regional rail hub makes it possible for 95 percent of the Agency's employees and consultants to regularly use public transportation to get to work. Region 3 also provided shower facilities and interior bicycle parking spaces to promote alternative methods of commuting.

Lessons Learned

The first EPA regional office to use a GreenLease rider, Region 3 not only discovered that compromise was sometimes necessary, but also learned that going green does not necessarily mean going into the red.

Flexibility Is Key to Success

When writing the GreenLease rider, Region 3 planners envisioned a host of environmentally preferable design parameters for their new offices including recycled carpet, furniture, workspace partitions, and building materials. In the end, planners were forced to confront budget limitations and the reality of trying to establish environmental solutions in leased space. Region 3's 1,200 employees occupy only 50 percent of the 600,000-square-foot property. Rather than completely abandon their environmental ethic, officials proceeded with practical and creative design solutions to ensure their building was as green as possible. When they were unable to use as many recycled-content materials as they originally planned, for example, they focused their attention on reusing and salvaging existing building components, including everything from HVAC components to Venetian blinds.

Purchasing the carpet for the offices also required compromise and flexibility. Due to indoor air quality concerns and the limited testing data available at the time, Region 3 did not use recycled content-carpet, but instead purchased the most environmentally preferable product available to them. Region 3 installed high quality, long-lasting carpet tile to ensure durability and facilitate simple repairs in high traffic areas.

Environmentally Preferable Does Not Mean "More Expensive"

While it is true that some recycled content materials were not used due to their higher price, not all environmental purchases raised expenses. In fact, the high level of material reuse and refurbishing saved more than $900,000 due to reduced labor, management, and material costs. The quality of the reused materials was often equal to or higher than new equivalents.

For more information on the new office space and the GreenLease rider, contact John Krakowiak at EPA Region 3 at 215 814-5611.

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