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News Releases from Region 05

EPA Recognizes Four Minnesota Federal Facilities for Saving Resources and Taxpayer Money

Contact Information: 
Francisco Arcaute (
312-886-7613 312-898-2042 Cell

For Immediate Release    No. 18-OPA26

CHICAGO (June 22, 2018) –Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 recognized four Minnesota federal agencies – Department of Veterans Affairs, the EPA Mid-Continent Ecology Division Laboratory, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Minnesota National Guard – for improving efficiency, saving resources and reducing costs as part of the Federal Green Challenge (FGC). 

“Federal agencies nationwide challenge themselves to improve efficiency and minimize environmental impact, and their achievements are saving American taxpayers tens of millions of dollars,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

“The four Minnesota winners demonstrate commendable environmental stewardship and fiscal responsibility,” said Regional Administrator Cathy Stepp.  “EPA’s Federal Green Challenge exemplifies the agency’s ongoing commitment to reducing the federal government’s environmental impact on local communities through waste prevention and innovative management.”

The Minnesota federal agencies receiving EPA’s Federal Green Challenge awards are: 

Department of Veterans Affairs, Minneapolis Health Care System, Minneapolis

This is the fourth year since 2013 that the Minneapolis Health Care System has been recognized by the FGC for their successes.  

This agency is receiving a Regional Education and Outreach Award for creating and offering the “Mini-Masters Recycling Program,” an educational program that teaches staff about solid waste management and prevention, plastic recycling, and food waste reduction.

The Department of Veterans Affairs, Minneapolis Health Care System also made strides in electronics and water conservation.  The agency was honored with the Regional Electronics Award for increasing the amount of Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) registered electronics purchased by 222 percent.

Finally, the department was also honored with a Regional Water Award for reducing landscape irrigation water usage by changing from turf to green infrastructure, contributing to a 75 percent reduction.    

“At the Minneapolis VA Healthcare System, our goal is to develop and implement a culture where sustainability is ingrained into daily operations to the point where it is habitual,” said George Johnson, Green Environmental Management System (GEMS) coordinator, Minneapolis VA Healthcare System.  “We appreciate the ongoing support and technical assistance the U.S. EPA provides us in our pursuit of continuous improvement.”  

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Mid-Continent Ecology Division Laboratory, Duluth

This agency is receiving the Regional Purchasing Award for reducing by 41 percent the amount of printing paper purchased in federal fiscal year 2017.  The lab has emphasized paper use reduction by using electronic documents and implementing double-sided printing.  Overall, the laboratory has reduced its paper use by nearly 90 percent since 2004.  The Mid-Continent Ecology Division was previously recognized by the FGC at the regional level in 2016.

“Through a joint effort by the staff of the Mid-Continent Ecology Division Laboratory, we greatly reduce our use of office paper through duplicating printers, electronic document review, electronic notebooks and avoiding the printing of daily work products, documents, and email,” said Barbara Sheedy, EMS and FGC division coordinator.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 3 Office, Minneapolis

This is the first time the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Region 3 office has been recognized by the FGC.  The agency is receiving a Regional Innovation Award for establishing a computer-based recycling tracking system that tracks all electronic waste recycled across its eight-state region.  The office developed and implemented electronic waste disposal guidelines that supported the reuse or recycling of used electronics, including a trade-in program that offset a portion of the cost of buying new devices.

“What an honor to have the EPA recognize our staff’s great work with electronic recycling for their Federal Green Challenge award.  Through this effort, our recycling practices are self-sustaining and our employees understand the importance of recycling electronic waste,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Region Director Tom Melius.  “We appreciate this recognition of our efforts and I thank our staff who brought this one home and earned this high honor.”

Minnesota National Guard, Little Falls

The Minnesota National Guard, Little Falls is receiving a Regional Leadership Award for its Energy Efficiency Challenge that encourages energy conservation and sustainability.  During the last three years, the Minnesota National Guard saved over $500,000 in energy costs by upgrading to more energy efficient equipment, using renewable energy sources and energy tracking tools, and providing technical assistance to its building operators and occupants at 68 percent of its facilities.

The Minnesota National Guard also decreased water consumption by 37 percent between 2014 and 2017 through leak detection, installation of more efficient water fixtures, increased metering and monitoring, and water reuse.  The Minnesota National Guard was previously recognized by the FGC at the regional level in 2016. 

“A major component of providing a ready and resilient force is providing sustainable facilities and infrastructure that serve to train and house our soldiers,” said Colonel Sol Sukut, construction and facility management officer, Minnesota Army National Guard.  “The Minnesota Army National Guard prides itself as a leader in promoting energy, water, and waste conservation and reduction practices.   Our commitment to leadership in environmental sustainability serves as a vital part of being mission ready and allows us to be good stewards of our environment."

Now in its sixth year, the FGC is a yearlong commitment under EPA's Sustainable Materials Management program that challenges EPA and other federal agencies throughout the country to lead by example in reducing the federal government's environmental impact.  Participants focus on efficiently managing their resources to reduce the costs and environmental impacts of building operations, maintenance and purchases.  Specifically, participants set goals and work to achieve results in at least two of six categories each year. 

For more information on the Federal Green Challenge and this year’s winners, please visit