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Energy, Environment, & Fleet (EEF) Program Service


VA’s 2022 Sustainability Awards

December 21, 2022

VA’s Sustainability Awards program, supported by VA’s Energy, Environment and Fleet Program Service within the Office of Asset Enterprise Management, has been providing recognition to VA facilities and employees for their significant contributions to environmental sustainability since 2010. The facilities and employees recognized this year come from a wide range of locations and positions and have gone above and beyond with valuable and inspiring projects that reduce environmental impacts while also helping VA operate more efficiently and better serve its mission. Awards are categorized under energy and water management, environmental management, fleet management, sustainable buildings, and climate adaptation.

Energy and Water Management Award Winners

National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP) in Honolulu, HI
Upgrade to Cloud-based Irrigation Control System

  • Daniel Ransom - Irrigation Specialist
  • Kenney Householder - Irrigation Technician
  • Michael Gaussa - Agronomist

The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP) in Honolulu, Hawaii replaced satellite irrigation controllers managed by an on-site central computer system with cloud-compatible controllers and software. The cloud-based software communicates hourly with the local weather station computer to provide real-time weather data—eliminating the need for an on-site weather station while saving water and reducing costs by using precise adjustments to application rates based on real data. The estimated savings to NMCP will be 3 to 9 million gallons of water annually, equating to roughly $15,000 to $46,000 each fiscal year.

William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans’ Hospital in Madison, WI
Facility Air Filter Upgrade Initiative

  • Olaf Vanderslice - Mechanical Systems Engineer
  • Kent McCutcheon - HVAC Supervisor
  • Colin Janisch - Maintenance and Operations Supervisor
  • Matt McKinley - Assistant Chief Engineer
  • Jonathan Bucy - Chief Engineer

The William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans’ Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin installed new high-quality air filters in all the air handling units at the facility. The new air filters will provide cleaner indoor air quality while reducing fan motor loads and waste production. This project resulted in estimated annual savings of $92,000 from power consumption being reduced by 118 megawatt hours, material procurement savings, and 684 yards less of generated waste.

Energy and Water Management Honorable Mention

Erie VA Medical Center in Erie, PA
Water Conservation Project

  • John Poshka - Green Environmental Management Systems Manager
  • Phillip Tsang - Healthcare Engineer
  • Robert Petrone - Healthcare Engineer
  • Daniel Ambrose - Maintenance Supervisor
  • Daniel Gray - Plumber

The Erie VA Medical Center (VAMC) Green Environmental Management System (GEMS) manager and healthcare engineering team completed a series of water savings projects that included the replacement of an undersized dry cooler, installation of automatic flushing faucets, repair of a leaking steam line, and replacement of a commercial-grade dishwasher. These water conservation projects resulted in water usage reduction of nearly 1.8 million gallons in 2021, which represents a 21% decrease from the previous year, and approximately $20,000 in utility cost savings.

Environmental Management Award Winners

Marion VA Medical Center in Marion, IN
Nutrition and Food Services (N&FS) Greening the VA Initiative

  • Lindsey Bartrom - Chief, N&FS
  • Lauren Batesole - Assistant Chief, N&FS
  • Tiane Bianski - Dietician
  • Nicholas Jones - Gardener
  • Charlene Blankenship - Administrative Officer
  • Amy Smith - Program Support Assistant
  • Rebecca Cavanaugh - Supervisor, N&FS

The Marion VAMC in Marion, Indiana launched a combined effort with Nutrition and Food Service (N&FS), GEMS, medical center leadership, the Center for Development and Civic Engagement (CDCE) and the local community to create a state-of-the-art food sustainability program with far-reaching results. Through this initiative, the Marion VAMC is diverting excess food waste from the landfill through a combination of alternatives. The Marion VAMC donated an estimated 5,550 pounds of food to the local community, composted 29,000 pounds of food, and processed 13,000 pounds of food through an onsite biodigester. In addition, the N&FS has donated a total of 2,015 food boxes valued at over $76,000 through their pantry to date.

Roseburg VA Medical Center in Roseburg, OR
Vermiculture Compost Food Waste Diversion Project

  • Dakota Bryan - Food Service Work Lead
  • Pam Pearce - Food Service Work Lead
  • Kendra Fultz - Food Service Worker
  • Carl Barnette - Food Service Worker
  • Sabreena Morgan - Food Service Worker

The Roseburg VAMC in Roseburg, Oregon collaborated on a food waste diversion project between its Food and Nutrition staff and Heal Terra, a local Veteran-owned non-profit vermiculture composting facility. Food waste accounts for 40% of the Roseburg VAMC’s overall waste. Through this collaboration, the facility has significantly reduced food waste by converting it into a nutrient rich, organic alternative to synthetic fertilizer. Where used in place of fertilizer, compost can enhance soil’s ability to retain water while also reducing the quantity of phosphorous, nitrogen and potassium that can leach into waterways and contribute to harmful algae blooms. The Roseburg VAMC diverted five tons of food waste in 2021 and expects an increase in diversion rates next year as the program matures.

Environmental Management Honorable Mentions

James E. Van Zandt VA Medical Center in Altoona, PA
Direct Digital Controls Project

  • Zachariah Wasser - General Engineer

The James E. Van Zandt VA Medical Center in Altoona, Pennsylvania awarded a $4.7 million project to replace pneumatic controls with direct digital controls (DDC) for monitoring its building systems. The upgraded DDC allowed for more energy efficient use of controls, centralized data gathering and the ability to monitor and optimize control of its building systems. The solid-state sensors and controllers used in DDC systems have considerable energy-efficiency, accuracy and reliability advantages over conventional pneumatic systems. The upgraded controls are expected to yield operational energy savings of 15% from the pneumatic controls.

Salem VA Medical Center in Salem, VA
Recycle Compactor project

  • Shenandoah Clay - Safety Specialist

The Salem VAMC in Salem, Virginia installed three recycling compactors, including two for cardboard and one for plastic products. The VAMC hired a safety specialist to spearhead this effort which involved identifying requirements for installation, providing staff training, and overseeing proper functioning of the compactors. The recycling compactors are expected to generate funds for clean recycled materials, provide an estimated annual savings of $15,000 in waste removal costs and improve the environmental footprint of the facility.

Fleet Management Award Winners

Boston VA Healthcare System in Boston, MA
Fleet Vehicle Electrification Launch

  • Gary Krauch - VISN Energy Manager
  • Jeffrey Barnes - Fleet Manager
  • Sean Martin - Energy Engineer
  • Peter Lopes - Engineer Manager
  • Sneh Shah - Brockton Project Engineer

In early 2021, three facilities in Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury and Brockton, Massachusetts that comprise the VA Boston Health Care System partnered with the local electric utility, National Grid, to assess transitioning the VA Boston fleet to zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). National Grid’s fleet advisory services program conducted a study that was completed in March of 2021 with a roadmap to fleet electrification for all 3 campuses. The fleet electrification assessment identified 25% of the VA Boston fleet that could be converted to ZEVs over the next 7 years as vehicles leased from GSA are retired and replaced. If implemented, these conversions would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 575 metric tons and provide estimated operational savings from fuel, maintenance and other expenses of $300,000 over the next 14 years. Using this study, VA Boston staff successfully installed dual-port charging stations at the VA Brockton campus and will look to expand charging capacity for its growing fleet of ZEVs in future years.

Lebanon VA Medical Center in Lebanon, PA
Battery-powered Mowers with Solar Canopies

  • Kevin Smith - Grounds/Transportation Supervisor
  • Kimberlee Kreiser - Engineering Acquisition Specialist
  • Melissa Boustany - Assistant Chief of Logistics

The Lebanon VAMC in Lebanon, Pennsylvania launched an effort to obtain battery-powered grass mowers with solar canopies to help reduce petroleum use and promote alternative fuels for on-campus equipment. The Lebanon VAMC acquired two battery-powered mowers with solar canopies that have a 10-hour run time for mowing grass, while the attached solar canopies capture the sun’s energy to recharge the battery system. These electric mowers eliminate the need for petroleum fuel used in gas-powered mowers, which in turn reduces VA’s greenhouse gas emissions. Using solar power also allows VA to avoid the cost of electricity to recharge the batteries. VA is saving approximately $24,000 each year in operating expenses from the avoided fuel and maintenance of standard gas-powered mowers.

Sustainable Buildings Award Winners

Sedalia VA Clinic in Sedalia, MO
Sustainable Design Construction Project

  • Andrea Wiggins - Assistant Director
  • Darren Grayson - Facility Planner
  • Alan Gifford - Contract Specialist
  • Debbie Mullies - CBOC Manager

Staff from the Sedalia VA Clinic in Sedalia, Missouri collaborated with the building lessor on the building design of a new Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC). The roughly 11,000 square foot building was designed and constructed to meet Leadership for Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. To achieve LEED status, the building included a reclaimed gray water system to reduce indoor water use; a multi-zoned lighting and air conditioning system with setbacks to reduce energy consumption; a storm water retention pond to contain, filter, and percolate parking lot water runoff; and a cooling system designed to use non-ozone depleting substances. The building also uses natural light to reduce lighting costs, uses heat reducing islands to improve the parking area for staff and visitors, and provides 43% more space than the previous clinic to allow more specialty care for patients. The building is estimated to use 28% less energy compared to similar non-LEED buildings, helps retain high quality employees from its improved features, enhances positive Veteran experiences, and moves VA towards its sustainability goals.

Pikes Peak National Cemetery in Colorado Springs, CO
LEED Gold and Silver certification

  • Skyler Holmes - Cemetery Director
  • Lori Hoden- Director - Project Delivery (CFM)
  • Rob Newstead - Senior Resident Engineer (CFM)

The Pikes Peak National Cemetery (PPNC) pursued LEED certification to demonstrate its ongoing commitment to energy and environmental efficiency. LEED is a widely used and globally-recognized standard to identify buildings that are cost-effective, energy efficient and have less impact on the environment. PPNC’s Public Information Center administration building achieved LEED Silver and the facility maintenance building achieved LEED Gold certification. These buildings are estimated to use 25% less energy and on average 11% less water when compared to similar National Cemetery Administration facilities that do not meet the LEED accreditation standards.

Climate Adaptation Award Winner

Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago, IL
Project CATCH (Capturing Anesthetics Towards Climate Health)

  • Justin Jay Macadangdang - GEMS Program Manager
  • Dr. Gretchen Fox, M.D. - Attending Anesthesiologist

The Jesse Brown VAMC in Chicago, Illinois implemented a project called Capturing Anesthetics Towards Climate Health (CATCH) to spread awareness and increase adoption of anesthetic gas capturing and recycling systems across the Veterans Health Administration. Anesthetic gases are potent greenhouse gases. An estimated 95% of delivered anesthetic gases from hospital operating rooms (ORs) are vented outdoors using a scavenging system, which adversely impacts air quality and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. The Jesse Brown VAMC began using a product that captures waste anesthetic gas to allow for recycling and resale. In 2021, use of this technology to safely capture rather than vent all waste anesthetics—which are harmful to human health—allowed for safer working conditions for OR personnel, and prevented approximately two tons of greenhouse gas emissions.