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EPA Administrator Whitman Accepts Green Building Award For EPA Chelmsford Lab; Unveils Innovative Beaches Water Quality Testing Equipment

Release Date: 05/16/2003
Contact Information: Andrew Spejewski, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1014

CHELMSFORD, MASS. – In a tour of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s regional laboratory in Chelmsford, Mass., EPA Administrator Christie Whitman today announced a ‘Gold’ certification for the building from the U.S. Green Building Council and viewed an innovative new water testing method that will lead to quicker and more accurate information on pollution at public swimming beaches in New England.

The regional laboratory building is the first laboratory in New England to receive certification under the Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, and only the fifth building in the country to receive Gold certification this year. Gold is the second highest rating available under the system; only two buildings in the country have been awarded the higher ‘Platinum’ standard.

“As we work on today’s most pressing environmental problems, we have to be sure we are using sound scientific approaches. That is what is reflected in the work done here at this lab,” said EPA Administrator Christie Whitman.

All electric power to the building is supplied from contracts to purchase renewable wind-generated power and some on-site solar generation. Environmentally-friendly and low-toxicity materials were used in the construction and in the cleaning and maintenance of the building, which resulted in one third less energy consumption and nearly one fourth less water usage

The laboratory also unveiled a new bacterial DNA testing lab that can be used to identify different bacterial strains in environmental samples, becoming one of the first labs in the country to use the DNA testing technology for real-world environmental applications. Uses of the lab include rapid, same-day water quality testing for beaches; pinpointing sources of pollution to help reduce beach closures and improve water quality in rivers, streams and lakes; and identification of bacteria in soils and water that augment bioremediation at hazardous waste sites. The lab will be running a pilot project to test water quality at Carson and Wollaston Beaches in Boston, and Green Hill Pond in Rhode Island starting in July 2003.

“We’re excited to have this cutting-edge DNA testing technology here at the lab,” added Whitman. “By helping us better understand exactly where pollution is coming from, it will let us work more efficiently to make things cleaner. That should lead to more days when families can enjoy our beaches without fear of pollution.”

The laboratory building is owned and was constructed by iStar Financial. The building’s environmentally friendly design and construction is the result of collaboration among ISTAR, GSA, EPA, and the general contractor Erland Construction.

“President Bush has made environmental protection a top priority for his administration, and this award is an excellent example of recognizing success in this initiative,” said Dennis R. Smith, regional administrator for the GSA. “Administrator Stephen A. Perry and the General Services Administration take great pride in its efforts to not only safeguard the environment, but to do so in coordination with other federal agencies and industry partners.”

“iStar Financial is very pleased to be a part of this award-winning project,” said Timothy J. O'Connor, Chief Operating Officer of iStar Financial. “The Laboratory represents an important investment for our company both as an asset, and a resource in assisting in New England’s and our nation’s environmental interests. We are pleased to have such a strong start to our long term relationship with the Environmental Protection Agency and the General Services Administration.”

“Laboratories are inherently more complex than most building types,” said Christine Ervin, President & CEO of the Green Building Council. “EPA’s earning of a Gold rating for the Chelmsford facility not only deserves special recognition but also helps demonstrate that virtually any kind of building can dramatically enhance its environmental and economic performance.”

The LEED Green Building Rating System evaluates environmental performance over a building’s life cycle. Five categories are evaluated: sustainable site planning, improving energy efficiency, conserving materials and resources, enhancing indoor environmental quality, and safeguarding water. The LEED certifications are a project of the U.S. Green Building Council, a national, non-profit coalition of organizations and businesses from all segments of the building industry as well as government participants (including EPA).