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Our Past Accomplishments

2010 HHS Accomplishments

At HHS, we promote responsible environmental policy year-round since the health of the American people is directly linked to a healthy environment. We take pride in our year to year accomplishments regarding sustainability and are happy to support our current Administration’s commitment to open government and transparency.  A major accomplishment of the Department is the creation of a Sustainability Task Force and Workgroups.  Accomplishments from each goal area are briefly described below. 

While these summaries are only a snapshot of the steps we are taking at HHS to make the world a greener place to live, they illustrate how we are improving our practices. At HHS we are committed to doing whatever is necessary to protect the health of all Americans, and we recognize that ensuring a clean and healthy environment is a fundamental part of that effort.

Scope 1&2 Greenhouse Gas Reduction
Scope 3 Greenhouse Gas Reduction
HHS Fleet Greenhouse Gas Reduction
High Performance Sustainable Design / Green Buildings
Water Use Efficiency and Management
Pollution Prevention and Waste Elimination
Sustainable Acquisitions
Electronic Stewardship and Data Centers
Agency Innovation

Scope 1 & 2 Greenhouse Gas Reduction 

In FY 2010, HHS reduced energy consumption by 4.4 percent as compared to FY 2009 with an overall decrease of 21 percent when compared to the FY 2003 baseline year.  These results far exceed the FY 2010 SSPP goal of a 5.9 percent reduction from the baseline year.  This is in large part due to renewable energy projects installed with ARRA funding and significant energy efficiency projects implemented with both ARRA and alternative financing funding.  New alternative financing projects and sustainable, LEED rated building designs also were awarded.  An emphasis on management also was enhanced in FY 2010 as an energy management workgroup was formed to focus and coordinate efforts throughout the Department.  The workgroup established new goals for the FY 2011 Sustainability Plan, updated the HHS Metering Policy, established new training requirements and identified strategies to meet GHG reduction goals.

An in-house transportation planner coordinates, supports, and promotes a number of successful transportation initiatives at the CDC, which include a Platinum Level Partnership with the Georgia Clean Air Campaign. CDC has signed partnership certificates for each of its owned and leased facilities in Atlanta. In 2010, CDC and the Clean Air Campaign conducted training to educate personnel on transportation choices, including walking, bicycling, mass transit, vanpooling, carpooling, teleworking and alternative work schedules.

Scope 3 Greenhouse Gas Reduction 

In early 2011, HHS conducted a survey to collect data on its federal employee commuter habits and began to offer a transit subsidy for bike riders. The HHS Go Green Commuter Survey data will be used in the FY2011 GHG inventory to determine the emissions associated with the federal employee commute. The data will be analyzed for significant trends (e.g., relationships between commuter habits and choices) that will be used to inform behavioral strategies to reduce GHG emissions. HHS also will use the survey to set baseline emissions and reduction targets for each OPDIV. Because there were concerns about the Volpe survey design, validity, and reliability, that survey was used as a foundation for the HHS survey. With regards to the bike rider subsidy, HHS federal employees who bike to work are now eligible to receive a $20 monthly subsidy through the Bicycle Subsidy Program. Within days of the program announcement, more than 200 inquires were made regarding the subsidy.  Although this is a part of an existing transit benefit, agencies should run this by employee unions to avoid delays in program administration.

HHS Fleet Green House Gas (GHG) Reduction 

The HHS GHG (MT CO2e) emission reduction initiatives have resulted in an improved prediction estimate from an earlier value of 3% to a current estimate of 11% compared to a 2008 baseline.  The targets will be obtained because of HHS shift from low efficiency gasoline vehicles to model year 2010 high efficiency vehicles such as the Ford Fusion. The Department also improved the capabilities of its internal “petroleum” product reporting and monitoring via our Motor Vehicle Management Information System (MVMIS). Each affected HHS unit can now determine the effectiveness of its mission use of alternative fueled (flex fuel) configured vehicles and make better decisions about “right sizing” the fleet at local levels nationwide. The net effect is a sustained 25-30% reduction in petroleum products over time based on a 2005 baseline.

High-Performance Sustainable Design / Green Buildings 


HHS has a special challenge in improving the performance of its laboratories because their operation consumes far more energy and other resources than commercial office buildings. Nevertheless, great progress is being made. At CDC’s Ft. Collins, CO, Building 401, a new laboratory and support space for CDC’s Office of Infectious Disease uses 15.84% less energy for lighting and 43.87% less water than a standard laboratory. This project received a LEED® Gold for Commercial Interiors rating.

Facility Condition Assessments

Facility condition assessments at NIH document the scope and date of commissioning and include recommendations for re-commissioning. They also identify the potential for new daylighting and strategies to improve existing daylighting. 

Health in Buildings Research Initiatives

The interdisciplinary Health in Buildings Roundtable, chaired by NIH, seeks innovative solutions to promote human health in the built environment, based on scientific research. It plans to establish metrics to measure the impact of the built environment on human health; develop business models with positive ROI, based on positive health outcomes; and, develop a database on the impact of the built environment on human health and well-being.

A group of subject matter experts, led by HHS Region V, is working with the Government Accounting Office (GSA) to fill the existing gap in existing sustainability rating systems, such LEED®, in the area of indoor environment impact on building occupants and creation of features that encourage tenants to engage in physical activity or make other healthy lifestyle choices.  The group envisions a certification system that would incorporate these concepts and features to promote positive health outcomes.

NIH has developed protocols for remediation of contaminants during facility decommissioning and deconstruction which have been incorporated in the new American Industrial Hygiene Association/American National Standards Institute AIHA/ANSI Laboratory Decommissioning standard.

NIH has a research project on health impacts of artificial lighting systems, and research and development of programmable LED lighting systems to mimic the natural color spectrum of daylight.  Such systems could bring the health benefits of daylighting to interiors of existing buildings while reducing energy use and heat generation, and elimination of mercury-containing fluorescent lights.

The NIH comprehensive mercury reduction policy and program is being deployed throughout HHS. It aims to eliminate all uses of mercury in its facilities by increasing general awareness of mercury hazards, encouraging use of safer alternatives, and preventing spills.

Water Use Efficiency and Management 

In FY 2010, HHS reduced water consumption by 2.4 percent as compared to FY 2009, and is currently at the FY 2007 baseline consumption.  Several water efficiency projects were completed in FY 2010 such as cooling tower upgrades, well water use, highly efficient plumbing fixtures and xeriscape landscaping.  A boiler makeup water reduction project was started in FY 2010 and will be completed in FY 2011 that will yield greater decreases in FY 2011 and 2012.   In addition, a water management workgroup was formed that established new water reduction goals, coordinated and attended a water training course, identified additional training needs and developed a water leak detection policy.

Pollution Prevention and Waste Elimination 

In 2010, HHS completed its first Pollution Prevention (P2) Waste Assessment of all operating divisions with a focus on HHS owned and/or operated facilities.  The assessment also attempted to capture non-landholding and lease facilities. Even though data from these facilities is not reportable, it enables outreach and raises awareness.   Overall the initial assessment forms the basis for improvements in data collection and a follow up assessment will be conducted in the second half of 2011.  Although the data collection was imperfect, the information yielded recycling rates ranging from 7% to 46 % and an overall recycling of 17%. 

HHS developed the comprehensive 2011 HHS Policy “Restricting Procurement, Use, Storage and Disposal of Mercury and its Compounds on HHS Facilities.”  In accordance with the SSPP, the policy supports the task of reducing and minimizing the acquisition, use and disposal of hazardous chemicals and materials.   The mercury policy builds on past successes, is historic in its scope and breadth, and supports the Department’s mission to protect the health of Americans by preventing environmental releases of mercury from HHS facilities.  HHS believes its mercury policy can be readily adopted by other Federal agencies.  This will provide an example of federal leadership in pollution prevention and will result in significant reductions in potential human exposure to this toxic material.

P2WE Challenges include: 

  • Improved data capture for 2011 waste assessment may confound comparison with previous data and require adjustments of future diversion and Scope 3 reductions goals. 
  • Accurate capture of construction and demolition waste remains elusive. 
  • Competition for scarce resources especially between non-hazardous solid waste management (solid waste, diversion/recycling/waste to energy, composting) and regulated wastes management (hazardous waste, medical waste, radioactive and mixed wastes).  
  • Resources for data collection are scarce and compete with overall HHS mission.  Data gaps inhibit effective prioritization and quantifying reduction goals. 

Sustainable Acquisitions 

HHS is developing a Sustainable Acquisition Policy Memorandum (APM) to implement: (1) the mandatory collection of green purchasing data in the Departmental Contracts Information System (DCIS); (2) the addition of sustainable evaluation criteria into applicable solicitations; and, (3) the incorporation of sustainable acquisition provisions and contract clauses into applicable contracts.  The APM will facilitate the measurement of the 95% sustainable acquisition threshold and enhance the effectiveness of green procurement practices at HHS.

Electronic Stewardship and Data Centers 

HHS has developed the Electronic Stewardship Policy and the Policy for Data Center Management.  The establishment of these policies will:

  • Ensure we comply with the Executive Order (E.O.) 13423 and 13514.
  • Reduce energy consumption.
  • Reduce toxics disposal related to electronics.
  • Save money through reduced energy consumption and increased electronics life expectancy.

One project worth noting is the migration of FDA datacenter from Rockville, MD to Ashburn, VA.  The process of transforming FDA’s information systems through the migration to new, modernized data centers was a high-priority initiative, developed as part of the Information Computing Technologies for the 21st Century (ICT21) program.  All FDA Production, Development and Test environments were migrated to new datacenters, which in turn closed down the antiquated Parklawn facility.

The ability to standardize the infrastructure allowed the FDA to achieve 90.2% virtualization.  This consolidation effort resulted in a reduction of 110 database servers to 18. Having achieved a high percentage of virtualization reduces the physical footprint in our datacenters thus reducing power and cooling utilization.  One state-of-the-art facility in Ashburn, VA, and another at the FDA White Oak Campus provide the high performance and data storage required in today’s technology environment while anticipating a cloud computing platform.  The modern, redundant architecture of these data centers protects FDA systems from internal and external security threats. The robust electrical and cooling support systems ensure continuous operations under adverse conditions.  

In addition, HHS has:

  • Established a Department-level Electronic Stewardship Workgroup (ESWG) to discuss progress towards meeting the Electronic Stewardship (ES) Goals, share lessons learned and best practices on ES activities, and contribute towards workgroup deliverables.  The ESWG contributed to the development of policies, assisted in the development of a reporting mechanism to capture progress towards meeting the sub-goals, contributed to revising the SSPP, and mandated enrollment in the Federal Electronics Challenge.
  • Consolidated legacy mainframe workloads and began server virtualization to reduce the number of physical servers.
  • Added contract language and engaged procurement officers to only purchase green office supplies as well as EPEAT and Energy Star compliant devices.
  • Enabled duplex printing on new and legacy printers, and instituted printing best practices including default black and white printing, toner and print cartridge returns, and no personal desktop printers without justification.
  • Instituted green best practices for the office including minimal use of personal fans, heaters and refrigerators, and automated lighting controls.
  • Aggressive Power Management campaign to meet mandate of being Power Management (PM) enabled on 100% of eligible devices.

Agency Innovation 

At HHS encourage innovation so as to bring new ideas to our workplace that will help us carry out our mission activities and meet our sustainability goals. To encourage innovation in sustainable practices and technologies we use an array of incentivisation tools including HHSinnovates, a new employee award program created as part of the HHS Open Government initiative.  Twice a year, HHS employees are invited to submit innovations via an intranet site. The top innovations are posted for secure, on-line voting and commenting by the entire HHS community. One of the recent award winners for a sustainability innovation was the CDC Laboratory Recycling Pilot Program. The pilot program created a procedure for sterilizing plastic containers used in laboratories so they no longer pose a potential biosafety hazard and can be safely recycled. Over 16 months this innovative venture led to a total of 13,772 pounds of solid plastic waste being recycled instead of contributing to landfill waste.