GSA’s Rocky Mountain Region manages the Denver Federal Center (DFC), the largest concentration of federal agencies outside of Washington D.C. The leadership envisioned a sustainable campus where environmental performance improvements yield measurable business results. To establish a framework for reaching its vision and meeting its sustainability goals, GSA implemented a sustainability and environmental management system (SEMS) at DFC. As a vehicle for culture change and improved business practices, the SEMS is intended to lead to environmental “best practice” outcomes and result in measurable cost savings.
Since 2013, First Environment has been providing environmental management support services to GSA to further the continual improvement and implementation of its SEMS. The project team has identified the following opportunities for improvement:
- Engaging and integrating Region 8 (R8) field offices into the SEMS
- Improving SEMS communication through the website and other GSA tools
- Evaluating conformance and added value of ISO 50001 certification
- Tracking and communicating environmental performance metrics
- Supporting other GSA initiatives, such as DFC’s Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Environmental Leadership Program Gold Status
First Environment conducted a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats analysis (SWOT) and evaluated the SEMS per ISO 14001 clauses, providing recommendations to GSA. We are currently implementing those recommendations, which will address program weaknesses and threats. We are also working with GSA to develop a process for improving the SEMS in the field offices while leveraging previous regional rollouts and communication tools, such as the GSA SEMS website and ongoing facilities management and services program meetings. In addition, we are evaluating the potential benefits and limits of pursuing an ISO 50001 audit for the DFC.
First Environment is also responsible for reviewing and revising SEMS documentation and records (e.g., significant environmental aspects, environmental program management plans, environmental procedures, system procedures, emergency preparedness and response plan, state, and federal legal reviews, R8 audit checklists) to conform to ISO 14001.Throughout this project, the team will develop new procedures, training, audit measures, etc., as required by new federal laws, executive orders, and regulations.
In addition, First Environment supports the annual internal audit of the SEMS to evaluate conformance to requirements with the following overall goals:
- Conduct audits of Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, and Utah field offices
- Conduct an on-site audit of the DFC
- Develop Corrective Action Reports to address findings and identify corrective and preventive measures
- Identify common issues across the field offices and develop recommendations to improve the SEMS