EPA Builds Lab With Green Rider
At a Glance
The "Green Rider" provides guidance for environmentally preferable design, product selection, construction, and demolition.
The Green Rider is available online.
EPA established a "Green Team" representing:
- EPA regional and headquarters staff
- Laboratory personnel
- U.S. General Services
- U.S. Department of Energy Federal Energy Management Program
Environmental Information Sources:
Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability software
- Comprehensive Procurement
Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental
None at this time as project is not yet complete.
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 featuresfrom 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:
- Environmental purchasing, including using the Building
for Environmental and Economic Sustainability (BEES) software developed
by the National Institute of Standards
and Technology (NIST)
to weigh the economic and environmental performance of selected products.
- Buying recycled content products, including meeting the requirements
of EPA's Comprehensive Procurement
Guidelines (CPG) program which designates recycled-content products
for purchase by federal agencies and recommends recycled-content levels
for those products.
- Solar energy applications, including participating in President
Clinton's Million Solar
through which businesses, government agencies, and institutions will
install solar energy systems on 1 million rooftops across the U.S. by
- Green building, including participating in the U.S.
Green Building Council's (USGBC's) Leadership in Energy and Environmental
building rating system. This voluntary, market-driven system is based
on existing proven technology that evaluates environmental performance
from a "whole building" perspective over a building's lifecycle.
- Water conservation, including using water efficient plumbing
fixtures such as low flow toilets, urinals, and sinks; drip irrigation,
low flow sprinkler heads, and other irrigation control systems; and
strategies to reduce water use in the HVAC equipment.
- Energy conservation, including passive solar design approaches,
day lighting, low E glass, and renewable energy sources.
- Natural landscaping, including developing a landscaping plan
that incorporates native, low maintenance species and promotes water,
energy, and habitat conservation.
- Construction and demolition (C&D) debris reuse and recycling,
including documenting material recovery strategies, quantities recycled,
and cost and landfill space savings during the construction period.
- Indoor air quality, including meeting EPA's detailed indoor air quality requirements such as carefully placing exhaust and air intakes to prevent cross contamination, preventing radon in the laboratory, and using low VOC adhesives, paints, sealants, and caulks.
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 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.
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.
Although the project is not yet complete, the Agency offers the following lessons learned:
- Do your homework. As is the case with many federal building
projects, the laboratory will be built on a limited budget. As a result,
EPA scrutinized each element of the Green Rider to ensure it would not
raise the cost of the building. According to the Green Team, the key
is to start early in the process and build support in all affected Agency
- Documentation is key. When working on the office building,
EPA found that the contractor grew to embrace the idea of green building
once it knew it had to document results. In fact, the site manager became
an active partner with EPA staff in making choices about environmental
- Cast a wide net when seeking environmental alternatives. In
developing the Green Rider, EPA Region 7 considered a wide variety of
environmental attributes. Although none was completely rejected, some,
such as the Agency's original C&D recycling and reuse goals, were
scaled back. This was primarily due to a lack of mandates directed specifically
at some of the project's goals. In most cases, however, the selected
attributes are supported by Executive Order mandates or existing federal
- Draw upon the range of environmental purchasing-related programs.
According to the Green Team, Region 7 saw this project as an opportunity
to embrace the goals of Executive
Order 13101 and integrate the many programs that relate to environmental
purchasing. Region 7 hopes to demonstrate how the different programs
that relate to environmental purchasing, such as the CPG,
Million Solar Roofs
and LEED building
fit together and complement one another.
- Consider lifecycle costs. Ultimately, it is up to the contractor to select the products for the laboratory, and contractors typically do so based on the lowest cost. Region 7, however, intends to work with the contractor to consider the lifecycle costs of the products, including the costs of raw material acquisition, manufacturing, transportation, installation, use, and recycling and waste management. A lifecycle cost approach helps create a level playing field for some environmental products that might cost more upfront but provide savings over the long run.
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.