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Sustainability

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Sustainability

  • The goal of sustainable development is to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Facilities sustainability focuses on buildings and associated development.

    Most developments use whatever materials and methods provide the desired function and image at the lowest initial cost, with little regard for future consequences. This often leads to inefficient, short-lived structures that gobble far more resources than needed and suffer unnecessarily high maintenance and operations costs.

    Sustainable developments are more durable. They have lower life-cycle costs, increased user comfort and hetitleh, reduced energy use, and lower operations and maintenance costs. They also produce less waste.

    This section of the Facilities Toolbox provides information about "caring for the land" by practicing sustainability and "serving people" by creating more comfortable and hetitlehful spaces. Doing so can reduce the life-cycle costs of existing and new Forest Service facilities.

    The Eastern Sierra Inter-Agency Visitor Center
    has lightshelves, sun shades, a ground source
    heat pump, a "cool" roof, and windows that
    minimize heat transfer and maximize views of
    Mt Whitney.

    Forest: Inyo
    Region: 5


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  • United States
    Department
    of Agriculture
    Forest Service Washington Office
    14th & Independence SW
    P.O. Box 96090
    Washington, DC 20090-6090

    File Code: 1300/6500 Date: January 9, 2007
     
    Subject: Forest Service Environmental Footprint—Reducing Travel and Other Costs in FY 2007
     
    To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director and Deputy Chiefs

    The National Leadership Team (NLT) has spent a significant amount of time on improving the availability of funds for on-the-ground performance. While much of our attention has focused on organizational restructuring, it is clear that an effort to reduce travel costs and overall consumption of non-renewable resources can also increase funds for on-the-ground work.

    Last October, as the nation responded to the Hurricane Katrina and Rita disasters, the President issued a Cabinet level directive to reduce travel and consumption. I'm pleased to report that overall the Forest Service reduced total travel expenses by 10.5% in fiscal year (FY) 2006, and did so without recurring reporting or accountability controls.

    In FY 2007, I want to further reduce overall travel costs and begin a national effort to monitor consumption and reduce our "environmental footprint." To that end, we will do the following:

    Reduced Travel Costs: Reduce travel costs by an additional 10% from the savings already achieved in FY 2006. Enclosed is an analysis of FY 2006 actual cost compared to FY 2005, the same reporting format that will be used this fiscal year to monitor cost on a monthly basis. The report will not include travel information related to wildfire suppression and reimbursable programs. On a monthly basis the Business Operations Deputy Area will provide travel expense data to the Regions, Stations, Area (RSA), and Deputy Chiefs. Achieving a further 10% reduction will require the commitment of all line officers to travel only when necessary and use new technology such as videoconferencing and e-technology.

    Environmental Footprint: Begin to focus on the Forest Service's "environmental footprint" by establishing up to 10 measures for energy consumption covering utilities, fossil fuel consumption, fleet use, and facility efficiency that can be tracked to the unit level and that can be compiled without impact to field units. To provide perspective, enclosed are very tentative measures being considered for initial use in reporting on the agency's footprint. Beginning in FY 2008, these measures will be reported in the Performance Accountability System and to the extent possible will be measured against consumption over multiple prior years. Additional work in this area will involve the establishment of an incentives program to build unit level commitment to reduce our agency's footprint. As part of this additional effort we will evaluate the inclusion of new performance measures associated with changing the agency's consumption habits further. This will involve added attention toward measures associated with recycling items such as paper and plastics, acquisition of "energy and environment friendly" equipment and supplies, and other means of changing our dependence on non-renewable energy sources and reducing our impacts on the environment through reduced waste and emissions. This effort will be reflected in a Forest Service "Statement of Social Responsibility" that will publicly state the agency's commitment to a reduced environmental footprint.

    In closing, I would like to acknowledge the grass roots work of many employees throughout the agency and especially in Region 2, in focusing attention on the "Forest Service footprint" as part of the emerging global attention on "sustainable operations." Success in this effort will help draw attention to the Forest Service commitment to being a leader in improving, enhancing, and protecting ecosystem services and the benefits we all obtain from the natural environment. Reduced consumption of energy and non-renewable resources supports these larger efforts and involves every employee through their personal attention to reducing our footprint.

    Success in reducing travel costs and the agency's footprint will bring the benefit of reducing agency operating costs and increasing available funds for direct program performance. With commitment of all Forest Service line officers, I feel we can build an agency wide enthusiasm for reducing travel costs and consumption of non-renewable resources that will be a visible model of which all employees can be proud.

     

    DALE N. BOSWORTH

    Chief
     
    cc: pdl wo ops amc all
    Barbara Cooper
     
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  • These draft measures need further data availability verification, but are intended to be used to baseline FY2006 numbers, and serve as measurement throughout FY2007. It is understood that these do not reflect a full picture of the agency's sustainability situation, but rather are presented to afford a start toward measurement in this arena. Additional measurement and adjustments are being worked on for FY2008.

    Measure 1
    Measure Name: Dollar cost of electricity
    Measure Definition Total dollars expended for electricity as recorded using Budget Object Code 2311 in the Agency's FFIS system.
    Accomplishment Code: SUST-1
    Associated SP Goal & Objective: 6.0
    System of Record: FFIS
    Unit of Measure: Dollar
    Reporting Frequency: Monthly
    Project/Unit Level: Unit Level—Not added to WorkPlan
    Comments: Extrapolation to consumption in MWH possible at the National Level only. Possible extrapolation to carbon emissions at the National Level only. No purchase card dollars included. Electricity cost included as a part of leased agreements is not represented.
    Measure 2
    Measure Name: Dollar cost of Fuel Oil
    Measure Definition Total dollars expended for fuel oil as recorded using Budget Object Code 2318 in the Agency's FFIS system.
    Accomplishment Code: SUST-2
    Associated SP Goal & Objective: 6.0
    System of Record: FFIS
    Unit of Measure: Dollar
    Reporting Frequency: Monthly
    Project/Unit Level: Unit Level—Not added to WorkPlan
    Comments: Extrapolation to consumption in gallons possible at the National Level only. Possible extrapolation to carbon emissions at the National Level only. No purchase card dollars included. Fuel Oil cost included as a part of leased agreements is not represented.
    Measure 3
    Measure Name: Dollar cost of Natural Gas
    Measure Definition Total dollars expended for Natural Gas as recorded using Budget Object Code 2312 in the Agency's FFIS system.
    Accomplishment Code: SUST-3
    Associated SP Goal & Objective: 6.0
    System of Record: FFIS
    Unit of Measure: Dollar
    Reporting Frequency: Monthly
    Project/Unit Level: Unit Level—Not added to WorkPlan
    Comments: Extrapolation to consumption in cubic feet possible at the National Level only. Possible extrapolation to carbon emissions at the National Level only. No purchase card dollars included. Natural Gas cost included as a part of leased agreements is not represented.
    Measure 4
    Measure Name: Vehicle fuel consumption by fuel type
    Measure Definition Gallons of vehicle fuel consumption by fuel type as presented in the EMIS system.
    Accomplishment Code: SUST-4
    Associated SP Goal & Objective: 6.0
    System of Record: EMIS
    Unit of Measure: Gallon
    Reporting Frequency: Monthly
    Project/Unit Level: Unit Level—Not added to WorkPlan
    Comments: Multiple fuel type listing taken from EMIS system for monitoring purposes, as well as comparative and trend analysis. Possible extrapolation to carbon emissions.
    Measure 5
    Measure Name: Miles driven with transportation class vehicles
    Measure Definition Total miles driven for grouped classes of vehicles that provide general transportation.
    Accomplishment Code: SUST-5
    Associated SP Goal & Objective: 6.0
    System of Record: EMIS
    Unit of Measure: Miles
    Reporting Frequency: Monthly
    Project/Unit Level: Unit Level—Not added to WorkPlan
    Comments: Does not include large utility classes such as bulldozers, wildland fire vehicles etc. Focuses on general classes such as Pick-up trucks, sedans, vans etc. Does not include miles driven with rented vehicles. Does not include POV mileage. Possible extrapolation to carbon emissions at the National Level only. E
    Measure 6
    Measure Name: Number of vehicles by major transportation class per FTE
    Measure Definition Number of vehicles for major transportation class
    Accomplishment Code: SUST-6
    Associated SP Goal & Objective: 6.0
    System of Record: EMIS
    Unit of Measure: Number
    Reporting Frequency: Monthly
    Project/Unit Level: Unit Level—Not added to WorkPlan
    Comments: Does not include large utility classes such as bulldozers, wildland fire vehicles etc. Focuses on general classes such as Pick-up trucks, sedans, vans etc. FTE data taken from the EMIS system.
    Measure 7
    Measure Name: Number of facilities that hold LEED or similar certification
    Measure Definition Number of Forest Service facilities that hold a LEED certification (or similar). LEED certification, which includes a rigorous third-party commissioning process, offers compelling proof to you, your clients, your peers and the public at large that you've achieved your environmental goals and your building is performing as designed.
    Accomplishment Code: SUST-7
    Associated SP Goal & Objective: 6.0
    System of Record: INFRA
    Unit of Measure: Number
    Reporting Frequency: Monthly
    Project/Unit Level: Unit Level—Not added to WorkPlan
    Comments: Measure given to increase awareness of this system of recognition.
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  • Section Provisions
    102. Energy management goals
    • Annual energy reduction goal of 2% from FY 2006 - FY 2015
    • Reporting baseline changed from 1985 to 2003
    • In 180 days, DOE issues guidelines
    • Retention of energy and water savings by agencies
    • DOE reports annually on progress to the President and Congress
    • DOE recommends new requirements for FY 2016 – FY 2025 by 2014
    103. Energy use measurement and accounting
    • Electric metering required in federal buildings by 2012
    • In 180 days, DOE consults and issues guidelines
    • Agencies report to DOE 6 months after guidelines issued
    104. Procurement of Energy Efficient Products
    • Energy Star and FEMP-recommended products procurement requirement
    • Exception when not cost-effective or meets agency functional requirements
    • Energy efficient specs required in procurement bids and evaluations
    • Requires premium efficient products: electric motors, air conditioning, and refrigeration equipment procurements
    • In 180 days, DOE issues guidelines
    104 (c) Energy efficient products in Federal catalogs
    • Requires listing of Energy Star and FEMP-recommended products by GSA and Defense Logistics Agency
    105. ESPCs
    • Reauthorizes ESPCs through September 30, 2016
    109. Federal Building Performance Standards
    • Buildings to be designed to 30% below ASHRAE standard or International Energy Code if life-cycle cost-effecive
    • Application of sustainable design principles
    • Agencies must identify new buildings in their budget request and identify those that meet or exceed the standard
    • DOE must include the agency budget information above in the annual report
    • DOE must determine cost-effectiveness of subsequent standard revisions within one year
    111. Enhancing efficiency in management of Federal lands 53-54 DOI, DOC, and USDA
    • Energy efficiency technologies in public and administrative buildings to the extent practical
    203. Federal purchase requirement (renewables) 167-169 DOE
    • Renewable electricity consumption by the Federal government can not be less than:
      • 3 percent in FY 2007-FY 2009
      • 5 percent in FY 2010-FY 2012
      • 7.5 percent in 2013 and thereafter
    • Defines several types of renewables
    • Double credit for renewables (1) produced on the site or on Federal lands and used at a Federal facility or (2) produced on Native American lands
    • Biannual DOE progress reporting beginning no later than April 15, 2007
    204. Use of photovoltaic energy in public buildings 170-174 GSA
    • Establishes a photovoltaic energy commercialization program in Federal buildings
    • Issue rules, develop strategies and reports annually to Congress
    • Install 20,000 solar energy systems in Federal buildings by 2010
    • Requires an evaluation 60-days after passage
    • Authorizes funds for the program
    206. Installation of a photoelectric system 181 GSA
    • Authorized funds for a solar wall at DOE's Forrestal Building
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  • Minimizing energy use is important at Lolo Pass
    Visitor Center, which remains open year round.

    Forest: Lolo, Clearwater
    Region: 1

    Yes, sustainability makes a difference in several ways.

    Personnel Costs: Sustainability includes preventing mold and microbial growth, ensuring adequate ventilation, providing daylight and views for all work areas, assuring that building occupants have at least some control over the temperature in their work area, and selecting construction materials, interior finishes, and cleaning products that aren't toxic and don't emit volatile organic compounds. These measures all lead to reduced absenteeism and significantly improved worker hetitleh, satisfaction, and productivity. The costs for a typical Federal office are $315 per square foot per year for salary and only $15 per square foot per year for building operation (including amortized construction cost or rent), so even a modest 5 percent increase in productivity could lead to a reduction in total costs that is larger than the annual cost of building ownership and operation.

    Energy Use Costs: Sustainable practices can make a difference in the energy costs billed to our units. New construction built sustainably will have energy bills that range from 20 percent lower than those of standard construction to zero net energy use. Zero net energy use means that over the course of a year, the building generates as much energy as it uses. While such structures tend to be more expensive to construct than can usually be justified with Forest Service budgets, 30 percent lower energy use is readily achievable. More information on energy efficient buildings is available at the Whole Building Design Guide Web site.

    Operations and Maintenance Costs: We can also improve the sustainability of our existing facilities, and it can be done cost effectively. Ordinary operations and maintenance work can be a great opportunity to improve the sustainability of offices, warehouses, crew quarters, homes, utilities, and all the facilities that enable Forest Service employees to do their work. Making thoughtful choices about insulation, windows and doors, heating, air conditioning, lighting, water use, and even landscaping can make a big difference in operations and maintenance costs. Incrementally Greener—Improving Sustainability Over Time Through Operations and Maintenance (Optional link for FSweb users) tells how to make it happen.

    Future Generations: Implementing sustainable practices will help ensure a hetitlehy economy, environmental integrity, and human well-being for our grandchildren. If we don't make sustainability improvements, life will not be pleasant for future generations. Because about 40 percent of total energy usage, 12 percent of fresh water use, and about 40 percent of raw materials are dedicated to the construction and operation of buildings, it is vital for our grandchildren that our developments and operations be as sustainable as we can make them.

    How much difference can be made by changing Forest Service practices? The documents below provide statistics on the current environmental footprint of some Forest Service units, summaries of some current sustainable practices and changes that have been made, and ideas for changes that can be made.

  • CONTENT GOES HERE
  • The Republic Ranger Station was designed with
    a strong emphasis on sustainability.

    Forest: Republic
    District: Colville
    Region: 6

    Sustainable construction can be more expensive than ordinary construction, but it doesn't have to be.

    It's not economically practical to retrofit most existing buildings with high-profile sustainable features such as grid-independent photovoltaic systems, but plenty of things can be done inexpensively to improve the sustainability of existing buildings. Incrementally Greener—Improving Sustainability Over Time Through Operations and Maintenance (Optional link for FSweb users) tells how to do it. The Sustainability Solutions web site contains examples of how sustainability has been improved at Forest Service locations.

    When designing new structures or developments, sustainable features could be selected and added to an otherwise ordinary structure or development, but that's not the most cost effective way to build sustainably. Far better results can be obtained if a unified vision of the desired image and performance of the structure and site is developed first, then design characteristics are created to respond to the vision. Using this process, the structure and site are treated as a single entity whose various features are chosen because they will work in synergy to achieve optimum appearance and performance. This approach is called integrated design.

    The most effective integrated design solutions are achieved when a multidisciplinary design team works together from the earliest stages of planning. For instance, basic building configuration and orientation choices provide the most opportunity for energy and lighting efficiency. Building configuration choices that are less than optimal can double or triple the cost of mechanical and electrical systems and energy usage. Teams that include the input of the landscape architect, mechanical engineer, structural engineer, electrical engineer, and lighting engineer from the very beginning are more likely to produce sustainable designs that are cost effective to build than if the other specialists aren't consulted until after the floor plan, size, shape, and look of the building have been finalized by the architect. More information about integrated design is available on the Green Building Advisor's Integrated Design web page.

    How much extra should you expect to pay for a LEED Silver or Two Green Globes building instead of ordinary new building construction? The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) found that extra design and documentation costs are up to 40 cents per square foot and that construction costs range from slightly lower than ordinary costs to about 4 percent higher than normal costs. These costs are documented in GSA's 2004 LEED Cost Study. That cost study doesn't include commissioning or energy modeling, which each cost about ½ to 1½ percent of the construction cost. So costs for a sustainable office building could range from the same as an ordinary building to 15 percent higher, depending on how cost conscious and integrated the design is. Buildings with special requirements may have higher extra costs. A 2010 article summarized the results of various LEED cost studies and found no significant difference between LEED certified buildings and standard construction.  Construction funds are applied in different ways for sustainable, energy-efficient buildings, but costs are no longer higher.

    When considering the cost of sustainability, remember that initial cost is only about 10 to 40 percent of the total cost of building ownership. Operating and maintaining a facility costs more than initial construction. Durable, efficient materials and systems such as those normally included in LEED-certified and other sustainable buildings are frequently much less costly over the entire life of the structure than materials and systems that cost less initially. Executive Order 13693 of March 19, 2015, recognizes the wisdom of making decisions based on life cycle costs and requires that life-cycle costs be used when making energy efficiency, clean energy technology, water conservation, and energy management implementation decisions.

  • The Forest Service Handbook 7309.11, chapter 70 requires all new construction or major renovation of Forest Service regional offices, district offices, supervisor's offices, visitor centers, research offices/labs containing 10,000 or more gross square feet to be registered and certified under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system at the Silver level, the Green Globes rating system (minimum Two Green Globes), or other third–party certification system. Information about successful strategies that have been used to build LEED certified Forest Service buildings is available in Implementing LEED: Strategies That work for the Forest Service.

    LEED is the best-known broad-based sustainability rating system in the USA. It is a voluntary, consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. It is organized and maintained by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED ratings can be obtained at four different levels, depending on the number of sustainability features incorporated into the project. Certified is the minimum level of LEED certification. Silver and gold are intermediate ratings. Platinum is the highest rating.

    Among the LEED standards that are currently available are:

    The Forest Service maintains a corporate membership (Web site available only to FS and BLM employees) in the U.S. Green Building Council. The membership allows Forest Service employees to attend training and purchase materials at the lower members' rates.

    A number of Forest Service design professionals are LEED accredited, which means they've passed a test and are recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council as having a thorough understanding of green building practices and principals. If you have questions about sustainable design, you can contact a LEED accredited Forest Service design professional (Web site available only to FS and BLM employees). LEED courses are available to prepare for LEED professional accreditation exams.

    Specification sections specifically related to LEED items are available in the Federal Guide for Green Construction Specifications and the FSweb page on LEED Specifications (available only to FS and BLM employees).

    Proper documentation for LEED credits is crucial. Information about documentation is available at the LEED and the LEED User websites.

    Comprehensive information on designing and operating LEED buildings is available at the Federal Facilities High Performance Buildings and the Whole Building Design Guide Web sites.

  • Xeric landscaping can be very
    attractive.

    Forest: 6
    District: Willamette
    Region: McKenzie

    To improve the sites of existing buildings, check out the information in the Landscaping and Site section of Incrementally Greener—Improving Sustainability Over Time Through Operations and Maintenance (Optional link for FSweb users).

    Sometimes, options are limited for locating a new or leased building. When choices are available, siting and land use decisions should include as many of the following ideas as practical:

    • Reuse an existing building. Reuse typically requires less materials and resources than building new. In particular, consider reusing a significant historic building. Information on accomplishing the sustainable re-use of a historic building is available in the article Historic Preservation and Green Building: A Lasting Relationship a January 2007 article on the Building Green website.

    • If no suitable existing buildings are available, reuse a site that has been used previously for industrial, office, or residential development. Doing so helps preserve vanishing agricultural and wild land.

    • Limit the ground floor building size to leave more landscaped or undisturbed space for use by both people and animals.

    • Protect and restore open space and wildlife habitat that's part of the site. To save on lawnmower time, irrigation costs, and chemical fertilizers and pesticides, use water-wise landscape design (Xeriscape). Retain and plant native species for landscaping.

    • Preserve existing trees and plant new trees to provide shade for buildings, pavement, and pedestrian areas. Choose deciduous trees for the south sides of buildings in hot summer/cold winter climates to allow the sun to warm the building in the winter while limiting heat gain during the summer. Use shade structures instead of shade trees in desert areas. In areas prone to wildfires, trees and shrubs should be a safe distance from structures.

    • Limit pavement and other surfaces that shed water. Where a solid surface is needed for parking, driving, or walking, use porous surfacing such as grass pavement systems, gravel, porous concrete, or porous asphtitle paving. Construct a green roof if low slope or flat roofs are practical in your climate. Vegetation and porous surfaces limit runoff and help keep summer air conditioning costs lower.

    • Manage storm water carefully with on-site aquifer replenishment where possible. Prevent erosion during construction and landscaping.

    • Locate the building within walking distance of public transportation. Provide bicycle storage and changing rooms to encourage employees to use public transportation, walk, or ride bicycles to work. Let employees know about reimbursement programs (Web site available only to FS and BLM employees) for using public transportation.

    • Provide preferential parking for titleernative fuel and carpool vehicles to encourage their use.
  • Everyone who has anything to do with building and facility design, construction, operation, and maintenance is responsible for sustainable development to some extent.

    Line officers must ensure that the laws and regulations concerning energy efficiency and sustainability are followed on their units.

    Designers are responsible for completing building designs that conform to the laws and regulations concerning energy efficiency and sustainability. They must know the requirements, including third party sustainable building certification systems, and provide innovative designs that will cost effectively meet or exceed them. They must design buildings that work well, portray an attractive and appropriate Forest Service image (Optional link for FSweb users), and satisfy all the other laws and requirements for structures. Specifications (available only to FS and BLM employees) must be written to include sustainability and commissioning (available only to FS and BLM employees) requirements.

    Facilities engineers and maintenance personnel are responsible for continually improving the sustainability of Forest Service structures and developments through master planning, design, contract administration, and operations and maintenance. Facilities engineers and maintenance personnel should find Incrementally Greener—Improving Sustainability Over Time Through Operations and Maintenance (Optional link for FSweb users) helpful in accomplishing their work.

    Purchasing and contracting personnel are required by executive orders and Federal acquisition regulations (FARs) concerning energy efficiency, recycled products, environmentally friendly products, biobased products, and ozone depleting substances to consider sustainability whenever they place an order or write and award a contract. GSA has a Web site that makes sustainable purchasing easier. The Forest Service issued a PCMS Green Purchasing Help Guide in January 2007.

    Janitorial staff can make a big contribution to the sustainability of the indoor environment by using low-toxicity cleaning supplies. Information on environmentally preferable cleaning products is available through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

    All employees should be conscious of the effect their daily behavior and choices have on the environment. We can all do simple things that make a difference, like turning our lights and computer off when we go home. Check out the Forest Service Sustainable Operations web site or Sustainable Operations SharePoint site (available only to Forest Service employees) for more ideas.

  • The durable materials in this
    restroom ensure that it will
    remain attractive and easy to
    maintain for many years.

    Forest: Colville
    District: Republic
    Region: 6

    Materials and equipment are often chosen because they look good or are inexpensive. These attractive or inexpensive materials may have high upkeep costs or wear out quickly. A better long-term strategy is to keep durability and long-term costs in mind when selecting construction materials and equipment. Before selecting materials or equipment, ask yourself:

    • How long will this last?

    • How often will I have to refinish or refurbish it, and what will that cost?

    • How often will this need to be cleaned or serviced, what products or technical expertise must be used, and how long will each cleaning or servicing take? What will it cost each time?

    • How much electricity or fuel is it going to use, and what will that cost? Will using this raise or lower the whole building's energy use?

    • How likely is this material or equipment to break or become damaged, and what will it cost to fix it?

    • When this material or equipment is at the end of its useful life, how much will it cost to get rid of it? Remember that it doesn't always cost to get rid of something—some materials and equipment can be sold or donated for recycling or remanufacturing.

    Budgets usually don't allow purchasing "the best money will buy". Check out the information in Incrementally Greener—Improving Sustainability Over Time Through Operations and Maintenance (Optional link for FSweb users) for cost-effective methods to improve the quality and durability of existing buildings.

    When designing new buildings, include as many of the following ideas as practical to improve the durability and quality of the building:

    • Keep the building dry. This is the first rule for ensuring long life. Mold is the most conspicuous problem in wet buildings, but dampness can cause almost all building materials to deteriorate, including concrete and brick. Here is some information to help keep buildings dry over time:

      • Durable roofing and siding materials that are installed properly last longer and have lower maintenance costs than less durable materials. Generally speaking, mineral products are more durable than organic products, and solid wood is more durable than processed wood. However, "generally speaking" doesn't always hold true. For instance, the fastener holes on a cheap metal roof (a mineral product) may enlarge and begin leaking within 5 years, while a well-done cedar shingle roof (an organic product) may last 20 years or more. Good judgment, extensive product knowledge, and careful examination of manufacturer's information are often needed to select durable materials.

      • Flashing, sealing, roof overhangs, and ground slope are important in all climates. Check out the Forest Products Lab's Build a Better Home Web site for information on how to keep moisture out of a foundation, install flashing around windows and doors, and make sure your roof doesn't leak.

      • Irrigation should not spray the building—use drip irrigation instead of spray heads if you need to irrigate landscaping near the building.

      • Plants can damage building materials directly and by holding moisture against the structure. Keep plants trimmed at least 6 inches away from foundations and siding.

      • In wildfire areas, more distance is needed between plants and structures, as explained in the National Interagency Fire Center's Firewise Web site and the Colorado Forest Service's Protect Your Home, Property, and Forest from Wildfire.

      • One of the most common locations for early framing decay in wood structures is where a porch or deck meets the building. The Forest Products Lab's Details for a Lasting Deck shows how to frame a deck or porch properly.

      • Choose windows and doors carefully. Fiberglass, vinyl, and wood windows with exterior vinyl or metal cladding are all energy efficient, low-maintenance, and durable. Low-emissivity coatings and inert gas between panes improve window performance in hot and cold climates. Thermal breaks are important. Don't forget that even with thermal breaks, steel is a good thermal conductor, and aluminum is even better. It's tough to find energy efficient windows and doors with metal frames.

    • Design details must match the local conditions. For instance, a cold roof with adhesive ice shield at the eaves and valleys is important in most of Montana and northern Idaho where frequent cycling between freezing and thawing temperatures can produce amazing winter ice formations on roofs. Large overhangs or shade structures are important throughout most of the South and Southwest to prevent excessive heat gain through windows during the summer. In temperate rain forest areas of Washington and Alaska, a whole lot of rainwater must be transported away from buildings. Using designs from other places or using outdated details can lower the durability of the building or increase costs unnecessarily. Make sure your designer knows the local conditions and building conventions.

    • Engineered lumber products formed from small pieces of wood and held together with glues or resins are becoming more available and affordable. In many cases, engineered products work as well as or better than solid sawn lumber. Engineered lumber products have consistent quality and don't twist or warp like solid sawn lumber often does. However, they should be used with caution in damp or wet locations. Mold can damage processed wood faster than sawn lumber. The glues in many engineered lumber products will disintegrate over time if they are exposed to moisture. Make sure the product you choose is designed to work where you want to put it.

    • titleernatives to light frame wood or steel construction for low-rise buildings may offer improved durability and energy efficiency in some climates. These construction methods include:

    • Durable cabinetry and trim is important in structures that are likely to experience hard use, such as bunkhouses. titlehough durable materials may cost more initially, they generally will remain serviceable for the life of the structure. Less durable products may need to be replaced in 5 years or less. Select solid wood or plywood components, rather than formed wood products with painted, plastic, or veneer surfaces. Pay attention to drawer construction—often, drawer sides, bottoms, and hardware on commercially available cabinets are not very sturdy.

    • Vermin and rot resistance can be a challenge, especially in remote locations. Bugs, fungi, and rodents can swiftly turn a serviceable structure into a crumbling mess. Check out Controlling Rodents in Forest Service Facilities: Reports from the Field (Optional link for FSweb users) for help dealing with rodents. Building Envelope Design and Mold (Web site available only to FS and BLM employees) has information on preventing and controlling mold. The Preservative-Treated Wood (Optional link for FSweb users) section of the Facilities Toolbox has information on appropriate treatment to prevent wood decay and boring insect damage.

    • Small problems can have a large effect on the appearance, function, and maintenance costs of a building. Keep these thoughts in mind when specifying details for structures:

      • White grout in floor tile will not remain white. Specify a dark grout color.

      • Rubber or plastic base molding that is bent and glued around the outside corners of walls will come loose. Specify pre-molded corner pieces.

      • Rounded outside drywall corners or square corners with corner guards extending at least 48 inches above the floor will curtail the seemingly constant need to repair chips at high-traffic corners.

      • Electrical outlets do not have to be hammer handle high from the floor. In most rooms, especially offices, electrical outlets that are 32 to 40 inches above the floor will be more convenient and less likely to be rendered unusable because they are hidden behind heavy furniture. While you're at it, install enough outlets to accommodate lots of electronic devices. Doing so will keep people from overloading circuits with multiple-outlet extension cords and converters.

      • Tackable surfaces should be installed in offices and meeting rooms so employees can hang reference materials and personal items without using tape or poking tacks into the drywall. In meeting rooms, tackable strips at 40 inches and 76 inches above the floor allow flip charts and other materials to be hung at both levels within reach of most employees.

      • Soap dispensers from commercial washroom equipment suppliers that are designed to work by pushing the end of a stem-mounted dispenser spout seldom survive more than 2 years. Specify touch-free soap dispensers with infrared sensors or use inexpensive dispensers recommended by the soap supplier.

      • For structures occupied by field-going personnel, choose flooring colors that are similar to the local dirt or that will minimize the visibility of dirt and mud.

      • Toilet paper dispensers and waste receptacles that protrude into toilet stalls should have rounded corners to minimize gouging and bruising employees and visitors.
  • The six waterless urinals at MTDC
    save 60,000 gallons of water
    each year.

    Unit: Missoula Technology and
    Development Center

    Faucets and fixtures that conserve water are the norm for new construction. Their effectiveness has improved dramatically from the early days of low-flow toilets that required multiple flushes and flow-restricted showerheads that barely dribbled water. The Forest Service intranet site Sustainable/Green Buildings—Water (Web site available only to FS and BLM employees) contains links to water conservation and water harvesting information.

    Water efficient showerheads and faucet aerators use less than 2.5 gallons per minute. Check the packaging or manufacturer's information to make sure you're buying low-flow products.

    Faucets that are controlled by infrared sensors can save a lot of water and water-heating energy over time in high-use restrooms. Photovoltaic sensor faucets that are powered by indoor lighting eliminate the need for batteries or an electric connection.

    Waterless urinals don't flush. Instead, urine flows to the sewer line through a trap that prevents sewer vapors from escaping into the air. Waterless urinals must be maintained according to the manufacturer's recommendations for satisfactory performance.

    This composting toilet serves
    Sunshine Campground.

    Forest: GMUG
    District: Gunnison
    Region: 2

    Low-flow toilets are available with pressure flush, dual flush, air assist, vacuum flush, and gravity flush in all price ranges. There are differences in effectiveness among low-flow toilets, so make sure you specify a model with good performance.

    Composting toilets are the ultimate water-saving plumbing device. They work well in all but the coldest climates, but their maintenance is labor intensive.

    The Environmental Protection Agency's Water Sense program and the Federal Energy Management Program's Federal Water Efficiency Best Management Practices Web sites contain good information about water efficiency. The Forest Service intranet site Water Conserving Fixtures and Products (Web site available only to FS and BLM employees) contains links to information on low flow toilets, waterless urinals, and composting toilets.

    Rainwater harvesting may be cost effective in areas with high water costs or a limited water supply. Simple rainwater harvesting systems just collect rain that comes off the roof, separate dirt and debris, and use the water to irrigate the landscape. More complex systems can be used for flushing toilets, fire protection, or even potable water. More information about rainwater harvesting is available at Montana State University and from the Texas Water Development Board.

    To improve the water efficiency of existing buildings, see the information in the Landscaping and Site, Water Conserving Plumbing, and Rainwater Harvesting sections of Incrementally Greener—Improving Sustainability Over Time Through Operations and Maintenance (Optional link for FSweb users).

  • Hundreds of things can be done to improve energy efficiency. Cost effective energy-efficiency improvements for existing buildings are explained in the Energy Audits, Retro-Commissioning, Equipment and Systems, Lighting, Building Envelope, and Building Materials sections of Incrementally Greener—Improving Sustainability Over Time Through Operations and Maintenance (Optional link for FSweb users). Another source of information about energy efficiency improvements is the U.S. Department of Energy's Energysavers Web site.

    Energy-efficient design of new buildings is best handled as part of an integrated design, as explained in Is sustainability affordable?. No matter the design, some energy-efficiency measures are always a good idea, and those measures are mentioned below. Other measures will depend on the climate, location, and type of building. Experienced architects and engineers can work together with the building owner to create a design for optimal energy performance.

    Programmable thermostats
    assure heat and cooling isn't
    wasted on an empty building.

    Unit: National Advanced Fire and
    Resource Institute

    The first consideration in energy efficiency is configuration and orientation of the structure. Building orientation should be site specific to take advantage of such things as allowing solar heat into buildings in cold winter areas, keeping solar heat out of buildings in hot summer areas, and allowing desirable breezes to flow through the building. Buildings with optimum building configuration and orientation need smaller HVAC systems that use less energy.

    The importance of adequate insulation and weather seals in both hot and cold climates can hardly be overstated. Don't forget the importance of energy-efficient windows and doors when considering insulation.

    Buildings that receive little use during evenings or weekends should have programmable thermostats. Programmable thermostats can be set to ensure that the heating and air conditioning are reduced when not needed. Override switches allow employees working outside standard hours to engage full heating and cooling while they are in the building.

    Appliances and equipment should be energy efficient. Look for the ENERGY STAR logo. Information on ENERGY STAR rated equipment and appliances is available at the ENERGY STAR Web site. Water heating, building heating, ventilating, and air conditioning equipment are generally the biggest energy users, and also have the most potential for energy savings.

    There are many methods of reducing lighting energy use and costs. Check out the Lighting section of Incrementally Greener—Improving Sustainability Over Time Through Operations and Maintenance (Optional link for FSweb users), Shedding Watts While Shedding Light, and the Lighting Handbook and Retrofit Guide for measures that are cost effective in both new and existing buildings. A lighting engineer who is an expert in energy efficiency can design cost-effective, energy-efficient lighting, both indoors and outside. The Lighting Design Lab provides inexpensive or free education and consultation to Federal agencies in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana through partnerships with the Federal Energy Management Program and local utilities. Similar programs may be available in other parts of the country.

    For information about financing options for energy improvements for Federal agencies, see Distributed Energy Resource Financing (website available only to FS and BLM employees).

  • Yes, energy from renewable sources can be generated at almost any location. However, it's not always cost effective to do so.

    The National Renewable Energy
    Laboratory supplied this photo of
    a wind turbine that provides
    power to a remote cabin.

    Renewable energy or "green power" is energy from sources that are continuously replenished or rapidly renewable and whose generation has little environmental impact. These systems include:

    • Wind, (titleernate Web site available only to FS and BLM employees) wave or tidal (titleernate Web site available to only FS and BLM employees), and small-scale hydropower (titleernate Web site available only to FS and BLM employees) use the force of water or air to turn the blades of a turbine that generates electricity.

    • Biomass (titleernate Web site available to only FS and BLM employees) can be burned in high-efficiency furnaces to generate steam that heats buildings or powers a turbine that generates electricity. Sometimes biomass is "co-fired", or burned along with another fuel, such as coal. Biomass can also be converted into fuel gas.

    • Biogas (titleernate Web site available to only FS and BLM employees) is methane collected from landfills, sewage treatment plants, or other decomposing organic material. The gas can be used to power fuel cells, purified and used like natural gas, or burned to power a turbine that generates electricity.

    • Geothermal power (titleernate Web site available to only FS and BLM employees) captures heat energy from hot water or steam in or heated by underground sources to power turbines that generate electricity. Geothermal heat can also be used directly to warm buildings or heat drinking water.

    • Solar (titleernate Web site available only to FS and BLM employees) power uses photovoltaic panels to turn the sun's light into electrical current. Solar power can also use the sun's energy to heat water using heat transfer panels.

    It is seldom cost effective to add renewable energy systems to existing buildings unless energy costs are very high, renewable energy resources are abundant at a site, or there is outside funding available. The NREL Renewable Maps provide fairly detailed information about the level of renewable resources available in the United States. Renewable energy systems are more likely to be cost effective when they are incorporated into new buildings or sites, because the entire development can be designed to maximize the effectiveness of the energy system, as explained in Is sustainability affordable?.

    Some utilities offer the option to purchase power from renewable energy sources for a small cost premium. Renewable energy credits can be purchased even if your local utility doesn't offer renewable energy for direct purchase. Renewable energy credits basically pay the extra cost of generating energy from renewable sources and adding it to the nation's electric supply system. Buying the certificate doesn't mean you're using renewable energy, but because you have made the production of that energy possible, somebody will use it.

    USDA's Sustainable Operations provides an overview of renewable energy, discusses strategies for purchasing green power and renewable energy credits, and explains requirements for USDA agencies to report their progress in complying with Section 203 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

  • The interior of the Sawtooth
    Recreation Area headquarters
    and visitor center shows
    extensive use of renewable
    materials, primarily wood.

    Forest: Sawtooth
    District: Sawtooth NRA
    Region: 4

    Sustainable materials are those that have a low impact on the environment because they are made from renewable resources, they don't take much energy to make or use, or they are made of recycled or recyclable materials. The impact of materials on the people who use the buildings or equipment made from the materials is also considered a sustainability issue, so materials that expose people to toxic fumes or substances during manufacture or use are not considered sustainable.

    When selecting materials, look for the following characteristics:

    • Materials made from renewable resources, such as wood, straw, cotton, wool, jute, coconut fiber, etc.

    • Materials made with recycled content, such as some carpet, paper, glass, and plastic products.

    • Materials that can be recycled when they wear out or you no longer need them, such as aluminum, steel, and some drywall, ceiling tile, and carpeting.

    • Materials that reduce energy use, such as "cool" roofing or windows with low-emissivity coatings and inert gas between the panes.

    • Materials with low volatile organic content (VOC), especially sealants, adhesives, and paints.

    • Materials that are made locally, so there is little energy expended for transportation.

    • Materials that don't require much energy to manufacture.

    For best life cycle value, be sure to compare durability, cleaning requirements, and maintenance cycles when selecting materials.

    For assistance in choosing "green" materials, visit the Green Materials and Construction (available only to FS and BLM employees) page of the Forest Service Engineering Web site or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Green or Environmentally Preferable Building Materials.

    To improve the sustainability of materials in exiting buildings, check out the information in the Building Materials section of Incrementally Greener—Improving Sustainability Over Time Through Operations and Maintenance (Optional link for FSweb users).

  • The Lake Tahoe Basin
    Management Unit Visitor's Center
    and Supervisor's Office
    experiences low humidity for
    most of the year.

    Forest: Lake Tahoe Basin MU
    Region: 5, 4

    Four main factors contribute to a hetitlehy indoor environment.

    Fresh Air—We all need fresh air, even when we're inside a building. Even if there are no sources of indoor air pollution, the carbon dioxide we exhale needs to be exhausted outside the building and fresh oxygen brought in. Ventilation rates should be at least as high as those defined in ASHRAE Standard 62.1— Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality orStandard 62.2 — Ventilation and Acceptable Indoor Air Quality in Low-Rise Residential Buildings. These two standards are available to Forest Service employees through the agency's TechStreet subscription Ventilation rate standards vary depending on the use of the space. For example, 15 cubic feet per minute per person is the minimum for residences and 20 cubic feet per minute per person is the minimum for meeting spaces. Ventilation can occur mechanically through your furnace or by using a fan, naturally by opening a window, or by infiltration. Older buildings were pretty drafty, so lots of air naturally infiltrated and flowed through them. Newer buildings are constructed much more tightly, so mechanical or natural ventilation must be supplied for recommended ventilation rates to be achieved. Be sure your building is well ventilated using energy-efficient methods.

    Building Products and Systems—Unfortunately, buildings often contribute to their own indoor air quality problems. Some building products, particularly paints, carpeting, and building panels, emit volatile organic compounds. Older buildings may contain asbestos, which can be released into the air when asbestos-containing materials are disturbed. Bacteria may grow in heating or air conditioning systems and cause Legionnaire's disease or other hetitleh problems. A poorly maintained wood burning or natural gas furnace or stove may produce carbon monoxide. When there is a practical choice, select sustainable products and systems that are less likely to contribute to indoor air problems and consider installing air-handling equipment with filters to remove pollutants from the air. Make sure all your equipment is serviced and cleaned regularly. See the Facilities Toolbox section on Hazmat in Buildings for more information on some common issues.

    Cleaning and Pest Control—Cleaning and pest control products can be bad for the people who use them or are around them. Fortunately, low-toxicity cleaning supplies are becoming more common and less expensive. Information on environmentally preferable cleaning products is available through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

    It can be a challenge to control pests without using toxic products that also may affect people. Some pest control companies now specialize in nontoxic pest control. Less toxic pest control products such as citrus and other repellents, diatomaceous earth, and traps are available for control of many pests. When nontoxic titleernatives are available and effective, they should be used. Unfortunately, there is no database of nontoxic pest control methods. However, check out Controlling Rodents in Forest Service Facilities: Reports from the Field (Optional link for FSweb users) and Preservative-Treated Wood and titleernative Products in the Forest Service (Optional link for FSweb users) for information on control of chewing insects and animals.

    Appropriate Humidity—Parts of the United States have very low humidity. In these areas, humidifiers are often used to raise indoor humidity to a comfortable level. Most of the country is normally humid. In humid areas, it is important to limit interior humidity, which can damage the structure and lead to the growth of mold. Showers, cooking, and even people exhaling water vapor add humidity to indoor air. It's important to get that excess moisture out of buildings using fans, dehumidifiers, or other means. Refrigerating air conditioners dry as well as cool the air. In many areas of the country, the drying is as important to human comfort and building durability as is the lower temperature. Excessive moisture sometimes gets into buildings through leaks in siding, roofing, and foundations. This moisture often hides inside the building structure and leads to decay. Check out the section on rot resistance in the building quality and durability section of this toolbox for more information about preventing mold.

    Other indoor air quality issues include radon, other soil gases, and pollutants or airborne particles that are sucked into a building through the ventilation system, windows, or doors. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency maintains a good Web site on indoor air quality that provides more information and practical recommendations for dealing with indoor air quality problems.

  • The sustainably designed Fenn
    Ranger Station visitor center is
    relatively inexpensive to
    operate and maintain.

    Forest: Nez Perce
    District: Moose Creek
    Region: 1

    New buildings are always less costly to maintain than older buildings, because things haven't had time to fall apart. However, operations and maintenance funds are always scarce, so it's worth considering what can be done during design and construction of new buildings to ensure that operations and maintenance costs won't bankrupt your unit after a few years. It's also worth considering the effect that operating a building will have on the environment over time. When designing new buildings, look for opportunities to use more durable, environmentally friendly, and energy-efficient equipment and systems and less toxic products, as explained in the sections on land use and site development, quality and durability, water efficiency, energy efficiency, materials and resources, and hetitlehy indoor environments.

    For existing buildings, check out Incrementally Greener—Improving Sustainability Over Time Through Operations and Maintenance (Optional link for FSweb users). This report explains how thoughtful maintenance choices and small changes in operations practices can improve the sustainability of existing Forest Service buildings and sites. Making cost-effective sustainability improvements can save money over time. Another good source of information is the Forest Service Sustainable Operations Web site (optional link for FSweb users).

    Simply purchasing sustainable and less-toxic products makes a big difference. GSA has a Web site that makes sustainable purchasing easier. The Forest Service issued a PCMS Green Purchasing Help Guide in 2007. Information about environmentally preferable cleaning products is available through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Also check out these tips for Green Cleaning, Green Cleaners, and Green Carpet Care.

  • Rhonda the Honda is a hybrid vehicle that is
    used for highway and around-town travel.

    Forest: Bighorn
    Region: 2

    Fleet sustainability can be improved significantly by reducing fuel use and exhaust emissions. Fuel use can be reduced a little by making sure that tires are properly inflated and by paying attention to other economic vehicle operating measures (Optional link for FSweb users) Fuel use can be reduced substantially by limiting miles driven and by increasing the fuel efficiency of the vehicles in the fleet.

    To reduce miles driven, always consider whether the work can be accomplished without traveling. Could a teleconference be used instead of an in-person meeting? Can Skype or another online method be used to share text and electronic information? For instance, presentations can be made remotely to people gathered at non-Forest Service sites by mailing a PowerPoint file ahead of time, having somebody onsite switch slides, and using a speakerphone to make the voice presentation and answer questions. If it's not possible to avoid travel, share rides whenever possible—the benefit is the same as doubling the vehicle fuel efficiency.

    Most fleet miles are driven on paved highways, yet most fleet vehicles aren't designed primarily for highway or urban travel. Consider replacing at least one pickup or large van with a fuel-efficient sedan or small sport utility pool vehicle that can be used for highway or around-town travel. It can be done! In the Rocky Mountain Region, 28 percent of new vehicles ordered in 2006 were titleernative fuel vehicles (AFV). In 2006, the region had 49 ethanol-85 compatible vehicles and 24 gasoline/electric hybrids. Five forests were using biodiesel-20 in their standard diesel vehicles. Confused about how to order more fuel efficient vehicles? Check out the Region 2 fleet ordering standards (Web site available only to FS and BLM employees) or contact (Web site available only to FS and BLM employees) the Region 2 fleet manager or assistant fleet manager.

    Pollution can be minimized by reducing fuel use as explained above and by switching to biofuels. Biofuels for vehicle use include:

    • biodiesel, made from plant oils and used in diesel engines
    • ethanol, an alcohol fuel made from plants and used in gasoline engines

    20 percent biodiesel or ethanol fuels can be used in ordinary engines. 80 percent biodiesel blends can be used in most diesel engines, but 85 percent ethanol fuel can only be used in flexible fuel vehicles. Both biodiesel and ethanol blends are available in many parts of the country. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory Web site contains an titleernative fuel station locator.

  • The Forest Service Handbook 7309.11, chapter 70 requires all new construction or major renovation of Forest Service regional offices, district offices, supervisor's offices, visitor centers, research offices/labs containing 10,000 or more gross square feet to be registered and certified under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system at the Silver level, the Green Globes rating system (minimum Two Green Globes), or other third–party certification system.

    Green Globes is an online assessment and rating tool for sustainable new construction and existing buildings that is operated by the Green Building Initiative (GBI). GBI is an accredited standards developer under the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Building certification is achieved by completing the online process and undergoing third-party verification of supporting documentation.

    Some Forest Service design professionals are Green Globes accredited, which means they've passed a test and are recognized by GBI as having a thorough understanding of green building practices and principals. If you have questions about sustainable design, you can contact a Green Globes Certified Forest Service design professional (Web site available only to FS and BLM employees). Green Globes Webinars are available to prepare for Green Globes professional accreditation exams.

    Comprehensive information on designing and operating Green Globes buildings is available at the Federal Facilities High Performance Buildings and the Whole Building Design Guide, Web sites.

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