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EPA Information Related to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act)

Recommendations to Incorporate Green Practices into Federally Funded Construction Projects

Tools to Help Federal Agencies Comply with Environmental Requirements

Compliance Assistance - Find assistance tools for specific statutes or regulations and compliance information for specific industry and government sectors

FedCenter.gov – Find federal government resources and information pertaining to multiple program areas such as clean-up, transportation, NEPA, pollution prevention, and energy

The Recovery Act presents numerous opportunities to help build a healthier, more prosperous, and sustainable future. EPA offers the following recommendations to assist funding recipients with achieving environmental, as well as economic and social justice goals. 

These actions can be incorporated into projects without slowing project funding or implementation. They can also support development of a “green” workforce and may reduce future operation and maintenance costs. Although EPA does not require that recipients adopt these practices, the Agency encourages recipients to consider using them when designing and implementing Recovery Act-funded construction projects.

Recycle, and Use Recycled Materials

  • Additional Information
    • EPA’s Industrial Materials Reuse and Recycling program offers technical assistance and information to foster use of locally-available industrial materials in building, road, water and wastewater, airport, transit, or other infrastructure construction projects, and to recycle C&D materials. 

    • The Associated General Contractors of America developed a C&D Recycling Toolkit Exit EPA Disclaimer in cooperation with EPA and the Industrial Resources Council.

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Save Water

  • Use water conservation products and practices when building - Use water-efficient products in new building construction, including WaterSense-labeled products.  Ensure that adequate metering is in place to measure and track water usage and create water efficient landscapes.   EPA’s WaterSense Program provides information on water-efficient products, a list of certified irrigation professionals, and other water efficiency resources.

  • Practice sustainable stormwater management at building sites  -  Implement site planning, design, construction, and maintenance strategies to maintain or restore, to the maximum extent technically feasible, the predevelopment hydrology of the building site with regard to the temperature, rate, volume, and duration of flow.  Consider designs for stormwater management on compacted, contaminated soils in dense urban areas (PDF) (4 pp., 809K, about PDF).   Learn how green infrastructure management approaches and technologies capture and reuse stormwater to maintain or restore hydrologies.

  • Use Low Impact Development practices to manage storm water - Low Impact Development (LID) is an approach to land development and re-development that works with nature to manage storm water as close to its source as possible. LID employs principles such as preserving and recreating natural landscape features, minimizing effective imperviousness to create functional and appealing site drainage that treats storm water as a resource rather than a waste product.

  • Additional Information

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Save Energy and Use More Renewable Energy

  • Develop Energy Management Programs at water and wastewater utilities - Using EPA’s Energy Management Guidebook for Wastewater and Water Utilities (PDF) (113 pp., 1.2 MB, about PDF), assess your utility’s current energy usage using Portfolio Manager, then conduct an energy audit at your utility.  Based on the assessment and audit results, develop measurable energy efficiency goals, implement projects based on your priorities, measure your success, and adjust your energy management program as necessary to meet new challenges.
  • Design and upgrade buildings with efficiency in mind - Start by assessing the efficiency of current buildings to help target stimulus funding toward ones with the greatest opportunity and design new buildings to meet high efficiency performance benchmarks.  
  • Mitigate the “heat island” effect through design and planning - Summer sunlight hitting roads, buildings, and other dark, unvegetated surfaces can make cities hotter than surrounding rural areas. This phenomenon is known as the heat island effect. To keep temperatures lower, and to save energy and reduce air pollution, use energy-saving heat island mitigation strategies. These strategies include planting trees and vegetation, installing green roofs, cool roofs and cool pavements.
  • Use ENERGY STAR Products to reduce the amount of energy that a wide range of products (e.g., appliances, lighting, office equipment, and consumer electronics) use—more than 60 products in total. Energy Star also has tools and certifies products for home renovations and improvements, commercial buildings, and new homes.
  • Purchase ‘green’ electronics and dispose of old electronics properly - Require all desktops, laptops, and computer monitors to have achieved Silver registration or higher under the Electronic Products Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) Exit EPA Disclaimer. Registered EPEAT products are ENERGY STAR compliant, use less environmentally sensitive materials, and require at least 65% of materials be reusable/recyclable.  The University of Tennessee’s Center for Clean Products’ Electronics Environmental Benefits Calculator Exit EPA Disclaimer is available for users to calculate the environmental and economics benefits of purchasing EPEAT- registered products. Consumer electronics manufacturers, retailers, and service providers can also partner with EPA’s Plug-In To eCycling program to promote the recycling of electronics.

  • Consider reuse of brownfield sites for alternative energy production - The West Virginia Water Research Institute is providing technical assistance to rural, underserved Appalachian communities for brownfields assessment, reuse planning, and revitalization. The project will produce an inventory of mine-scarred land sites throughout West Virginia that are suitable for redevelopment into biofuels and other alternative energy production sites called Sustainable Energy Parks.  Learn more about this project (PDF) (1 pp., 33K, about PDF)

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Protect Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) in Building Construction, Renovation and Retrofit

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Clean Up and Reuse Developed Sites

  • Encourage land development in brownfield and infill sites - Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties takes development pressures off of undeveloped, open land, and both improves and protects the environment.  These sites are often “infrastructure-ready”, eliminating the need to build new roads and utility lines which are needed when developing greenspace. Additionally, sites may also provide opportunities for renewable energy resource development.
  • Incorporate greener practices into remediation of contaminated sites - Encourage the use of greener remediation practices to reduce the environmental footprint of site cleanup work, such as designing treatment systems with optimum energy efficiency; using renewable energy to meet power demands of energy-intensive treatment systems or auxiliary equipment; using cleaner fuels for machinery and vehicles; reusing and recycling materials and minimizing water use.
  • Consider reuse of brownfield sites for alternative energy production - The West Virginia Water Research Institute is providing technical assistance to rural, underserved Appalachian communities for brownfields assessment, reuse planning, and revitalization. The project will produce an inventory of mine-scarred land sites throughout West Virginia that are suitable for redevelopment into biofuels and other alternative energy production sites called Sustainable Energy Parks. .  Learn more about this project (PDF) (1 pp., 33K, about PDF)
  • Additional Information

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Use Clean Diesels for Construction and Afterwards

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Integrate It All through Sustainable Green Building

  • Use the integrated design process to make new buildings and developments more efficient - Current procurement practices tend to separate out development into distinct stages that can discourage communication across the project lifecycle.  The integrated design process Exit EPA Disclaimer calls for the active and continuing engagement of all stakeholders, phases including the owners, architects, engineers, building department officials, and other professionals, throughout the building design, development, and construction.  This process can help create a higher performing building at lower costs, allows for various building systems to work together, eliminates redundancy from over design and unnecessary capacity, and minimizes change orders during the construction phase.  We encourage revising procurement practices so that it can then use the integrated design process.

  • Use Smart Growth and transit-oriented development principles - Smart growth and transit-oriented development (TOD) principles help preserve natural lands and critical environmental areas, and protect water and air quality by encouraging developments that are walkable and located near public transit.  Learn more about smart growth

  • Purchase environmentally-preferable products - Environmentally preferable means “products or services that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared with competing products or services that serve the same purpose”  This comparison applies to raw materials, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, use, reuse, operation, maintenance, and disposal.  Under Executive Order 13423, federal agencies are required to identify and purchase environmentally preferable products whenever possible to promote the use of sustainable practices throughout the federal government. EPA has created a guide to aid agencies in defining what is environmentally preferable among products.

    The Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Database can aid purchasers in identifying and purchasing products with reduced environmental impacts.  The database links to environmental standards and guidelines for a wide variety of products as well as contract language, specifications, and policies created and used by federal and state governments and others to buy greener products.

    Comprehensive Procurement Guideline (CPG) Program - This program is part of EPA’s continuing effort to promote the use of materials recovered from solid waste. The CPG program is authorized by Congress under Section 6002 of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and Executive Order 13423. EPA is required to designate products that are or can be made with recycled materials, and to recommend practices for buying these products. Once a product is designated, procuring agencies are required to purchase it with the highest recovered material content level practicable.

  • Additional Information
    • EPA’s Green Building program offers information and resources from of a number of EPA programs that support green building and construction, including including energy efficiency, water conservation, indoor air quality, resource conservation, and toxics reduction.

    • The Office of the Federal Environmental Executive (OFEE) Web site includes information on green purchasing and other resources to promote environmental stewardship:

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General Resources

  • Building Green Communities: Online Resources for Local Governments” (PDF) (36 pp., 1.0 MB, about PDF) - This compendium pulls together more than 125 items that are available online from EPA, other federal agencies, and nongovernmental organizations. The wide-ranging materials include planning guides, case studies, funding opportunities, and information on voluntary programs as well as technical materials such as pollution reduction calculators, sample ordinances, and building specifications. The materials are organized around the following topics: Green/Sustainable Communities, Climate Change, Clean Energy, Green Buildings, Purchasing Greener Products and Services, Sustainable Water Infrastructure, Water Conservation, Waste Management/Recycling, Land Revitalization, and Healthy Schools.
  • Recovery Act of 2009 State and Local Guide to U.S. EPA Climate and Energy Program Resources (PDF) (29 pp., 1.0 MB, about PDF) - This guide has been designed to help state and local governments see which EPA programs could be leveraged to expand or develop clean energy initiatives in their locality. It includes approximately two-page synopses of 14 EPA climate and energy partnership programs. Each program description includes: basic information and contact details; potential target audiences; highlights of ready-to-go tools and resources; and suggestions of possible actions a state or local government could take to leverage EPA’s offerings.

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