Region 8 Wins Prestigious National EPA Award
The Rocky Mountain Region Environmental Team, in partnership with the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment (CDPHE), was selected in July as a recipient of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) prestigious National Federal Facility Excellence in Site Reuse awards for their work on the Denver Federal Center (DFC).
This is only the second year for these awards which recognizes federal agencies who have supported the reuse and restoration of federal facility sites under the Superfund program through outstanding efforts.
The awards were given in four categories: National Priorities List (NPL) sites, NPL Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) sites, non-NPL BRAC sites, and non-NPL sites, according to a press release by EPA. The Region 8 team won in the non-NPL sites category.
“To have a successful program requires a team effort,” said John Kleinschmidt, Regional Environmental Manager for Region 8. “The Environmental Team at GSA and CDPHE has been composed with a number of talented individuals who without being part of the team, this project could not have achieved the success and the accomplishments it has to date.”
The current DFC campus was formerly the Denver Ordnance Plant that manufactured small arms ammunition to support the U.S. military during World War II. After the war ended, the one square mile campus was transformed into office and laboratory space for federal agencies. Today, the campus supports 27 agencies and more than 6,000 federal employees within 20 major permanent buildings.
The campus has undergone extensive remediation since the late 1980s in an effort to clean up environmental waste left behind when the ammunition plant closed as well as handling more recent issues from tenant agencies. More than 775,000 tons of remediation waste have been removed, including more than 340,000 tons of contaminated soil from the campus’ Downing Reservoir.
The DFC campus is unique in the GSA inventory because it is a large, separate installation that contains almost 4 million rentable square feet of office space. Due to its size and the technical complexities of the site, the remedies required to cleanup contaminates differed and were specific to each area on the facility.
“The Environmental Team works diligently with the various project managers and building managers while still maintaining worker and tenant safety as the highest priority,” said Kleinschmidt.
A close partnership with CDPHE has helped to not only maintain compliance with it’s environmental program but has also been effective at minimizing the impacts when unexpected landfills are uncovered, a hazard on the DFC because harmful cleaning solvents have leaked into the groundwater or asbestos containing materials may be buried in the soil.
“GSA has established a Dig Permit Program which requires the GSA Environmental Team to evaluate each proposal to disturb soil on the DFC,” Kleinschmidt added.
Remediation in and around the campus has led to redevelopment of the facility and the local community. Construction of a 15,000 square foot building for the State Department on the campus as well as clean up of land that once belonged to the DFC. Projects on previously owned DFC land include a major hospital, a medical office building, and an intermodal public transit station for light rail and buses.
Removing the harmful contaminants from the area is only part of the reason Region earned this award. Several initiatives have been established to allow the campus to be more eco-friendly. The use of zero-emission or electric vehicles, solar fields and rooftop arrays, LEED certified buildings, and several on-site bike sharing stations are all part of the commitment to make the DFC one of the most sustainable campuses in the nation.
“Without the cooperation with CDPHE, this award wouldn't have happened,“ said Kleinschmidt. “GSA over the last 20 years has not only developed a professional relationship but a friendship as well.”
The EPA established this award to recognize federal agency environmental work to support the reuse and restoration of Federal Facility sites through outstanding efforts to promote continued property use or support a site reuse, according to their website.