FEMP's Interagency Sustainability Working Group: Promoting Sustainable Design in Federal Facilities

July 28, 2004

The Interagency Sustainability Working Group (ISWG) was established in September 2001 in response to Executive Order 13123, and operates under the auspices of the Interagency Energy Management Task Force. The purpose of the ISWG is to:

  1. Serve as a forum for the exchange of information within the federal government on individual agency sustainable design activities.
  2. Foster and encourage each executive branch department and agency to consider the adoption of sustainable design practices and technologies in new federally-owned, operated, and leased buildings, as well as major renovations of existing federal facilities.
  3. Identify and propose solutions to barriers for the adoption of sustainable design in the federal sector.

Chaired by Beverly Dyer of FEMP, the Working Group is composed of more than 180 representatives with approximately 40 to 50 attending bi-monthly meetings in Washington, D.C. (teleconferencing is available to those outside of the DC area). Members represent a cross section of federal agencies, including the Departments of Defense, Energy, State, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, and Health and Human Services. Other members include the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Management and Budget, Tennessee Valley Authority, Bonneville Power Administration, and U.S. Postal Service.

The ISWG enjoys a close working relationship with the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive (OFEE) headed by John Howard. Members are currently collaborating with OFEE on the collection of on-going federal sustainability activities in the area of research and development, performance indicators, life cycling costing, and communications-priorities of the Federal Green Building Council, a group established by Mr. Howard of upper level agency managers interested in pursuing sustainability in the federal sector. This effort follows previous work by ISWG and OFEE volunteers who developed five white papers on the sustainability subjects of implementing policy, measuring performance, research and development, life cycle costs, and education and training.

Collectively, the working group has contributed to, reviewed or evaluated a number of reports and program activities, including the Business Case for Sustainable Design for Federal Facilities, Checklist of Opportunities to Upgrade Energy Efficiency with Building Security, a U.S. Green Building Council report on highperformance green buildings, OMB Circular A-11, the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive's report on the status of federal green buildings, and a collection of federal highperformance case studies.

In addition to learning from guest speakers, the group has also gained first-hand insight on current and innovative sustainable design practices by touring the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's green building in Annapolis, MD, the campus of the U.S. Naval Academy, and the National Building Museum's "Big and Green" exhibit on sustainable architecture for the 21st century.

Sustainability basics, federal requirements, project implementation, case studies and resources may be found on FEMP's sustainability Web pages. The site also includes a listing of ongoing federal sustainable design programs, pending federal sustainable design projects (culled from the Commerce Business Daily) and a listing of future conferences, workshops, and training programs dealing with sustainable design and related topics. An Intranet Web site was established, allowing federal agencies to post sensitive agency-sponsored sustainable design information for member review and comment. This password protected site also posts bi-monthly meeting reports, including summaries of recent working group meeting discussions and presentations on federal and private sustainable design issues and activities.

If you would like to join the working group, please contact Beverly Dyer at FEMP.