Speeches By EPA Administrator
Dedication of EPA Campus at Research Triangle Park05/29/2002
We are here today to commemorate a truly magnificent event in EPA’s history. I stand in the center of one of the greatest testaments to ingenuity and innovation – a masterpiece of environmental design – EPA’s new Research Triangle Park Campus (RTP).
Today’s celebration is the culmination of more than 30 years of history and I am honored that many of you who played an important part have joined us for this tribute. In 1968, with funding from the State of North Carolina, the Research Triangle Foundation sold 500 acres of land to the Federal Government for one dollar – hoping to secure a permanent home for federal environmental research in RTP.
In 1970, President Nixon created the EPA, and the Agency moved its RTP functions into “temporary” quarters in the area. These “temporary” lab and office spaces served as our home for more than three decades – longer than the Berlin Wall stood.
When planning for this facility began in the early 1990s, our goal was clear – build state-of-the-art laboratories and offices that embody the Agency’s environmental mission and save the taxpayers money. Through our partnerships with four federal agencies, three building companies, two architectural firms, and countless others, we have built one of the largest “green” buildings in the world – a model for others like it around the globe.
This facility is a showcase for how site and building design, construction practices, and routine operations can reduce energy consumption, minimize impact to the environment, and provide a high quality indoor environment for employees. It is the model for the future.
For years we’ve been told that protecting our natural resources costs too much. That when weighed against considerations of reduced profits and convenience, the price of environmental protection is too high. The EPA RTP Campus shatters this notion.
We have created outstanding “green building” results on a “typical” budget. Now let me be clear – with a price tag of $273 million, I am not saying this building was inexpensive. But what I am saying is that this building is proof that positive environmental action can also yield positive results on the bottom line. By consolidating 7 leased facilities, EPA will save the taxpayers more than $100 million over the first 30 years of occupancy at the new campus.
The knowledge that buildings can have significant environmental impacts is well documented. In fact, in the United States, 42% of energy use, 30% of raw materials, and 25% of water consumption are building related. Let me take a moment to tell you what we’ve done here to change that:
S The main building here uses 40% less energy compared to standard buildings of equal size, saving more than $1 million a year;
S Lighting is 70% more energy efficient than typical, code compliant buildings;
S By recycling 80% of all construction waste, more than 20 million pounds of material were diverted from landfills;
S 90% of roadway lighting is fueled by solar power, making the Campus home to the longest stretch of solar powered roadway in the United States;
S Laboratories were designed for quick, easy reconfiguration, reducing the need for new construction and renovation as research priorities change;
S Seven times more wetlands were created than were disturbed by construction; and,
I am proud to say that at EPA RTP, we are “walking the talk.” Our campus operations include electric cars, environmentally friendly commuting options, cafeteria waste composting, an eco-education center and a host of other environmentally-preferable services.
But even given its innovative design and construction, the most meaningful features of the RTP Campus are the people and the important work they do. All of you sitting here today and those who came before you should be proud of the difference you have made for the environment and human health. I am pleased that on the occasion of this dedication, I have the honor of speaking to the largest gathering of EPA employees since I took office 16 months ago.
The Research Triangle Park Campus is home to EPA’s largest operation outside of Washington – more than 2,000 employees and contractors work for the Agency in 1.2 million square feet of space on 132 acres. Four of EPA’s National Research Laboratories and Centers are represented here, as well as our Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, the National Computer Center, and portions of our Agency administrative support offices.
The EPA RTP Campus stands as a symbol of the Agency’s commitment to excellence. Cutting edge predictive modeling and emissions reduction research, state-of-the-art risk assessments, groundbreaking health effects research, innovations in regulatory approaches and environmental information, and sound resource management have been combined in a world-class research facility.
During the last three decades, RTP has had primary responsibility for developing the science and leading the nation’s regulatory agenda for air quality. In addition, RTP is EPA’s focal point for research, assessment, and modeling of the adverse effects of pollution and other stressors on human health and ecosystem vitality.
Looking to the future, our new home will support exciting research in several areas, including computational toxicology, biotechnology products, building security and decontamination, pollution prevention and control technologies, and particulate matter exposure and effects – to name just a few.
The work done here will provide us with the foundation for making decisions based upon strong science. We rely upon science and technology to help us determine which environmental problems pose important risks to our natural environment, human health, and our quality of life. Throughout EPA’s history, our greatest successes have occurred when policies, regulations, and decisions are based on the results of strong and relevant scientific research.
Later today, Dr. Paul Gilman, my Science Advisor and EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Research and Development, will chair a panel presentation on “Science in Environmental Decision Making – Progress and Opportunities.” I invite you to attend this presentation in the auditorium, which will be followed by tours of the new facility and exhibits highlighting EPA research activities.
While touring the Campus, please take some time to visit our new National Computer Center, located just down the road from the main building, and home to one of the largest solar roofs on the east coast. This Center provides information technology support to our employees, customers and clients throughout the nation. Again, the facility is state-of-the-art, offering the best in technology to support our high performance computing, data visualization, central data exchange, and data access efforts.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am eager to see this beautiful campus that I have spoken about this morning. So, let us officially dedicate this magnificent facility and get on with the wonderful events of the day.