Jump to main content or area navigation.

Contact Region 9

Pacific Southwest, Region 9

Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations

Composting, public transportation

November 2010 Newsletter

EPA's San Francisco Office Aims for Zero Waste

EPA’s Pacific Southwest office in San Francisco, which employs more than 800 people, has been working to improve its environmental footprint. Focusing on office activities, business travel, and employee commuting, we are reducing greenhouse gas emissions and have set a goal to eliminate landfill-bound waste. In the last year, the office has diverted over 80% of its waste from landfills through source reduction, recycling, and composting efforts. Recycling and composting also save energy – reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

This endeavor grew out of the regional office’s Environmental Management System (EMS). The EMS provides a framework for identifying opportunities, setting goals for improvement, and measuring progress in meeting the goal of continuously reducing our environmental footprint. 

Displays such as this one remind EPA staff about where to dispose of personal trash.

The EMS addresses sustainability at work and focuses on energy use, material use, air emissions and waste. Last year the Pacific Southwest office realized a 65% savings in the energy use of its computer fleet by replacing outdated computers with energy-efficient models. An additional 45% reduction is expected from shortening the time before computers are placed in sleep mode and by replacing copiers, printers and fax machines with multifunction printers later this year.

Printing only when necessary and on both sides of every sheet – using 100% post-consumer recycled paper that’s processed without chlorine – are examples of procedures for reducing paper use and purchasing environmentally preferable products. One way we reduce air emissions (including carbon) is by motivating employees to use public transportation. Over 80% of EPA employees participate in a transit subsidy program and commute via public transit or bicycle.

A Green Conference and Meeting Policy, launched in December 2009, is guiding employees to reduce the carbon footprint of meetings and conferences. A complementary policy that expands on green transportation will soon be in place as well.  Building on efforts like these, the regional office has set an overall goal of achieving carbon neutrality.

The Pacific Southwest office also integrates sustainability in program work through measures like its Greener Cleanups Policy, which focuses on reducing the pollution generated in the cleanup process. An example of this is reducing electricity use and diesel-fueled equipment at hazardous waste cleanup sites. Where possible, cleaner biodiesel-fueled equipment is used and photovoltaic solar panels are installed to generate pollution-free electricity.

EPA staff are also encouraged to act as ambassadors of the environment by taking simple steps to reduce environmental impacts in their personal lives. They try to model green or sustainable behaviors such as using less, reusing, recycling and composting at home, at school, on the road, and wherever they go. Will you challenge yourself to do the same?

Top of page

Pacific Southwest NewsroomPacific Southwest Programs Grants & FundingUS-Mexico Border News & EventsCareers About EPA Region 9 (Pacific Southwest)A-Z Index

Jump to main content.