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News Releases from Region 05

EPA Recognizes Department of Veterans Affairs in Minneapolis for Saving Resources and Taxpayer Money

Contact Information: 
Joshua Singer (

CHICAGO – Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognized the Department of Veterans Affairs Minneapolis Health Care System for its efforts to improve efficiency, save resources and reduce costs as part of the Federal Green Challenge.

“Federal agencies across the country are doing their part to minimize their environmental impact, in doing so saving American taxpayers millions of dollars,” EPA Administrator Pruitt said. “Their efforts resulted in an estimated cost savings of $17 million across the federal government.”

The Minneapolis VA Health Care System won the national FGC purchasing award for decreasing its printer and copier paper purchases by 44 percent from the previous year, saving $125,600. The facility reduced paper from 340,000 pounds in fiscal year 2015 to 191,000 pounds in fiscal year 2016 by increasing the use of electronic documents.

The Minneapolis VA center also won a regional FGC award for leadership in its efforts to reduce hazardous waste in the operating rooms and facility-wide. The work included documenting the process of reducing waste, increasing staff engagement and improving energy and water efficiency in the operating rooms.

“Sustainability is part of the day-to-day operations at the Minneapolis VA,” said Associate Director/Facility Sustainability Officer Kurt Thielen. “It is an honor to be recognized for our commitment to the health and safety of our veterans, staff, environment, and the community at large. Our goal is to develop and implement a culture where sustainability is ingrained into daily operations to the point where it is habitual.”

Nationwide, the FGC participants reduced the federal government’s environmental impact by reducing fuel oil consumption by more than 500,000 gallons, sending 310 tons of end-of-life electronics to third-party certified recyclers, saving 9.2 million gallons of industrial water, and diverting more than 336,000 tons of waste from landfills.

The FGC, now in its fifth year, is a yearlong commitment under EPA's Sustainable Materials Management program in which participants focus on efficiently managing their resources to reduce the costs of building operations, maintenance and supplies. Specifically, participants track their data in two of six categories for a year.

EPA recognized three other regional FGC winners in the Midwest: 

  • Department of Energy, Argonne National Laboratory, Lemont, Ill.
  • Environmental Protection Agency, National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory, Ann Arbor, Mich.
  • Department of Veterans Affairs, Minneapolis Health Care System, Minneapolis, Minn.

For more information on the FGC and this year’s winners, please visit