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EPA Builds Lab With Green Rider

At a Glance

Environmental Attributes:
The "Green Rider" provides guidance for environmentally preferable design, product selection, construction, and demolition.

Contract Language:
The Green Rider is available online.

Key players:
EPA established a "Green Team" representing:

Environmental Information Sources:

None at this time as project is not yet complete.

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

In February 2001, EPA's Region 7 plans to break ground on a new 37,000-square foot laboratory in Kansas City, Kansas. To help ensure the facility is built as "green" as possible, the region issued a "Green Lease Rider" (or "Green Rider") in July 1999, specifying a comprehensive set of environmentally preferable design considerations for the new facility. The Green Rider was an amendment to the Agency's solicitation for offers (SFO) for constructing the laboratory. Thus, when potential construction contractors submit bids to build the new laboratory, they are required to address the Green Rider as part of the proposal process.

This is not Region 7's first experience using a Green Rider. In 1995, Region 7 issued a Green Rider for the construction of its 217,500-square foot office building. This rider provided environmental specifications and guidelines for 28 product categories such as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems; paint; carpet; and plumbing. As a result, the office building, which officially opened in June 1999, incorporated a range of environmental features—from energy-efficient windows and lighting to an advanced water management system.

Green Rider Development Process

Based on Region 7's success with its new office building, many of the environmental design specifications from the original Green Rider were built into the SFO for the new laboratory. In designing the office building, however, the Agency found the contractor did not have easy access to information on environmentally preferable and recycled-content products and guidelines. "We sought to address this barrier through a new Green Rider for the laboratory," noted Marc Matthews of EPA's Region 7. "We wanted to create a document that was more educational in nature."

In February 1999, Matthews and two other regional EPA employees formed a "Green Team" to draft the new Green Rider. The team conducted Internet research, reviewed existing specifications, and relied upon other EPA regional and headquarters staff, laboratory personnel, the U.S. Department of Energy's Federal Energy Management Program, and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) to prepare the specifications. The Green Team sought to compile, for perhaps the first time, the wealth of information and guidance related to "green" building operation and design.

The Green Rider does not require the contractor to purchase specific products; rather, its primary goal is to briefly describe each of the following nine green building elements as well as what the contractor is required to report to EPA in each area throughout the construction process. EPA also developed a separate, approximately 200-page "Green Information Packet" to support the Green Rider with details on the different elements and related technical and environmental purchasing programs. The nine elements are:

The Green Rider places a high priority on documentation. In fact, it requires the selected contractor to help EPA and GSA develop a "Green Report" about the facility, documenting the environmental features of the laboratory. The contractor will also be required to apply to the USGBC's LEED™ Exit Disclaimer building rating system and achieve Bronze Metal status (meaning the laboratory earns between 50 to 60 percent of the LEED™ program's available credits). In addition, if the contractor selects a product that EPA Region 7 does not consider environmentally preferable, it must provide a clear justification for the decision (e.g., the environmentally preferable product was cost prohibitive or was not available). To help the contractor collect this information and to allow for an ongoing exchange of ideas and improvements, EPA Region 7 planned to expand the Green Team to include the contractor once the contract is awarded.

Current Status

The Green Rider was issued as an amendment to the SFO in July 1999. As a next step, interested contractors will submit a full bid package to GSA, including proposed designs and blueprints and a response to the Green Rider's requirements. Region 7 expected to award the contract by June 2000 and to begin construction by February 2001. Region 7 plans to complete the project by the summer of 2001.

Lessons Learned

Although the project is not yet complete, the Agency offers the following lessons learned:

Project Future

The Agency's long term goal is for the Green Rider to serve as a model for other Agencies, including GSA, to use in their solicitations. "EPA's mission extends beyond its role of permitting and regulating," said Andrew Kolosseus of EPA's Region 7. "Our own internal policies, including building guidelines for new facilities, must work to protect the environment. Additionally, since EPA encourages the use of environmentally friendly building practices, we must lead by example and promote the benefits of green building."

For more information on the Green Rider, contact Marc Matthews of EPA's Region 7 at 913 551-7517.

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