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EPA Launches Web Tools to Improve Environmental Performance at Education Facilities

Release Date: 07/09/2003
Contact Information: Andrew Spejewski, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1014

BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's New England Office today announced the availability of two on-line tools to help colleges and universities across the country come into compliance with environmental laws and further improve their environmental performance.
The web sites – a ‘virtual' environmental campus and a collection of successful case studies – provide practical information on environmental requirements, specific steps for achieving compliance, improving environmental performance and the potential resulting savings for colleges, universities, high schools and other educational institutions working with hazardous chemicals in their various departments.

"College campuses can have a big effect on the environment, from maintenance departments to art and lab supplies," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office, which spearheaded the effort to develop the two sites. "These two sites are a great tool for anyone who wants to see their campus a little greener, a little cleaner, and in many cases a little cheaper."

Today's announcement comes amidst an increased EPA emphasis on environmental performance at colleges and universities in New England and across the country. Since 1992, EPA has inspected more than 60 campuses nationwide resulting in over $6 million in penalties and projects beyond those required to come into compliance, with several cases still under negotiation. At the same time EPA has increased assistance and outreach to the sector. For instance, in the last year, EPA conducted or presented at 40 workshops reaching over 2000 individuals at educational institutions, on topics such as Auditing your Facilities, EMS Implementation, Storm Water Management, New Oil Spill Control Regulations, and Sustainable Practices.

The first website – at http://www.c2e2.org/evc – is a Virtual Environmental Campus developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The web site uses an engaging, intuitive format to highlight potential environmental issues at nine campus areas, and provides compliance information and good management practices on numerous issues. Areas covered include arts/theater areas, cafeterias, dormitories, drains/sewers, grounds/vehicles, labs, medical area, power plant and waste storage.

MIT agreed to develop the web site as part of a settlement of an enforcement case with EPA concluded in 2001. The site is hosted by the Campus Consortium for Environmental Excellence (C2E2), a consortium of colleges and universities dedicated to improving their campuses' environmental performance in higher education through environmental professional networking, information exchange, the development of professional resources and tools, and the advancement of innovative regulatory models.

The second web tool is a catalog of best management practice case studies included as part of EPA New England's college and university assistance web site. The catalog was designed to enhance EPA's existing guide for implementing an Environmental Management System (EMS) in a university setting. The case studies highlight successful strategies colleges and universities have used to make environmental improvements and may be a useful tool for those who may need practical information to convince administration, faculty or staff to move a project forward. The catalog also answers such basic questions as "How do I get started?" and "What are the potential cost savings?"

Colleges and Universities contributing to the BMP Catalog include: Bates College, Boston University, The Catholic University of America, Colby College, Cornell University, Harvard University, Eastern Connecticut State University, Medical University of South Carolina, Middlebury College, The Ohio University, Rhode Island School of Design, Southern Connecticut State University, University of Maine Farmington, University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of Massachusetts Boston, University of North Carolina, University of Vermont, and Yale University.

The catalog is designed to expand as more schools share their experiences on best management practices. EPA and C2E2, which helped collect the original studies, encourage schools to submit their case studies for the catalog. For further information or to submit your example for possible inclusion in the BMP Catalog, please contact Peggy Bagnoli at EPA New England at 617.918.1828 or at bagnoli.peggy@epa.gov.)

The catalog (along with the EMS guide and other information for colleges and universities) is available at http://www.epa.gov/region1/assistance/univ.