Federal Agencies Join on Earth Day to Renew Commitments to the Environment, Childcare
April 22, 1999
Mike Gauldin, Department of the Interior 202/208-6416
April Kaufman, GSA 202/501-1231
Ivonne Cunarro, OPM 202/606-1479
WASHINGTON, DC -- Children of Federal employees helped Administration officials replace a London Plain Sycamore tree on National Park land in the nation's capital today as part of this year's Earth Day activities.
The tree planing ceremony symbolized Federal agencies' commitment to the environment and children. According to GSA Administrator David J. Barram, GSA returns to federal agencies profits from the sales of recycled materials generated by their recycling programs. Many agencies use the recycling proceeds to help families with childcare tuition assistance. Barram said that in fiscal year 1998 alone federal agencies returned nearly $300,000 to directly help families cover childcare costs.
"We are proud to have implemented this fiscally-sensible, community-friendly program that can directly impact so many middle- and lower-income families," Barram said.
The tree planting took place at an interagency Earth Day event hosted by the Department of the Interior, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), General Services Administration (GSA), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the National Park Service in Rawlins Park at 18th and E Streets, NW. The tree was donated by the Department of the Interior's National Park Service.
Federal employees and their children attended the event, which featured exhibits on environmentally oriented products and programs, alternative fuel vehicles, and other activities.
Children from Ross and Stevens Elementary Schools also attended the event. The DC public schools are partnership schools of the Department of the Interior and benefit from some of the recycling programs that Department of the Interior employees participate in, as well as tutoring programs and other employee/student activities.
Additionally, officials from the Department of Transportation and OPM signed a Memorandum of Understanding with GSA that will establish partnerships on GSA's environmental program, Planet GSA. GSA Administrator Barram introduced the program last year on Earth Day, which focuses on four interrelated areas in which GSA has a federal responsibility - "buying green," "building green," "driving green," and "saving green." GSA, the Department of Energy, and EPA signed a similar agreement to work together on Planet GSA in December.
The Department of Transportation is especially proud of its accomplishments in its partnership with GSA on the Drive "Green" initiatives of Planet GSA. The Department of Transportation leases about 7,560 vehicles from GSA. The agency has a total of 505 alternative fuel vehicles and added two electric vehicles to its fleet in fiscal year 1998.
"OPM is happy to join with GSA and the Department of Transportation to reinforce the Clinton Administration's strong commitment to a clean environment," said OPM Deputy Director John Sepulveda. "OPM is adopting a comprehensive program to green the Theodore Roosevelt Building, where we are headquartered in Washington, DC." An environmental coordinator has been named in each office, and OPM is developing a comprehensive action plan to improve and expand waste prevention and recycling programs, implement acquisition planning and environmentally preferable products, develop and promote outreach and training programs, and establish goals for waste prevention, recycling, and affirmative procurement.
Administrator Barram announced fiscal year 1999 goals for Planet GSA, including increasing the total amount recycled and/or diversion rate of office waste in GSA operated buildings to 40%, amending GSA Public Buildings Service documents to require using construction and landscape products and materials with recycled content, acquiring 75% alternative fuel vehicles for GSA activities in selected major metropolitan areas, reducing energy consumption by 18% by the end of fiscal year 1999, and supporting President Clinton's Million Solar Roofs program by constructing 47 solar roof equivalents in fiscal year 1999.
Speakers at the Earth Day event included: David J. Barram, Administrator, GSA; Mortimer L. Downey, Deputy Secretary, Department of Transportation; John Berry, Assistant Secretary, Department of the Interior; Romulo L. Diaz, Jr., Assistant Administrator, EPA; John Sepulveda, Deputy Director, OPM; Fran McPoland, Federal Environmental Executive; and Jackie Robinson, Special Assistant to the Administrator, GSA.
Earlier in the day, GSA honored recipients of the agency's Third Annual Environmental Awards. Winning entries included a program to recycle about 330 tons of office paper collected each year from the White House complex. Due to security requirements, all White House documents are reduced to a cellulose "sand" that renders the fibers too short for traditional recycling into paper. In a unique partnership with Maryland Environmental Service, the material is now being shipped to a composting facility. The disintegrated paper is then combined with leaves and grass and later sold as a high-grade soil supplement product trading under the name of Leafgro. The initiative is a full circle recycling program; Leafgro is being purchased by both the National Park Service for use on White House grounds and the GSA landscape contractors servicing Federal buildings and the White House complex.