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Innovation Produces Results for the Environment - Companies are Running on the Performance Track

Release Date: 07/20/2006
Contact Information: Mike Frankel, 215-814-2665

PHILADELPHIA -- The collective voluntary efforts of 30 organizations in the mid-Atlantic states are proving that innovative pollution prevention programs offered to the regulated community indeed achieve measurable environmental results.

There is no substitute for the tough enforcement of environmental laws. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state and local governments continuously monitor compliance, levy stiff fines against violators and, when warranted, seek jail sentences for the worst polluters. But voluntary programs are also making a difference in Americas environmental health.

EPAs National Environmental Performance Track is one such program. Performance Track was named one of the 50 top government programs in the country by the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Universitys John F. Kennedy School of Government. As a recipient of this “Oscar” of government awards, Performance Track was recognized for its uniqueness, effectiveness, significance and potential for replication.

“While enforcement actions have proven effective in ensuring compliance with environmental laws, Performance Track offers an incentive for doing even better” said Donald S. Welsh, EPA mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator.

In a nutshell, Performance Track is a consortium of facilities which EPA has approved for special recognition because of superior environmental performance and lasting commitment to improvement.

In the mid-Atlantic region, EPAs office is unique, having achieved Performance Track membership in February 2006. The Philadelphia office became the first and only EPA facility in the nation to be designated as a National Performance Track member. Thirty organizations from across Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia, including members from manufacturing, research, industry and government are also participants in the regions Performance Track Program.

Collectively, the 30 mid-Atlantic members have reduced water use by nearly 500 million gallons; reduced materials use by 350 tons; and increased use of recycled materials by 330 tons. In addition, the facilities have reduced energy use by 1.8 trillion BTUs, cut toxic releases to air by 77 tons; reduced nitrogen oxides emissions by more than 2,400 tons; and lowered sulfur oxide emissions by nearly 1,000 tons.

Those results would not have occurred using an enforcement approach alone.

These members have also made performance commitments to conserve an additional 307 million gallons of water and 325 billion BTUs of energy; reduce hazardous waste generation by 3,950 tons; and reduce solid waste by 26,222 tons.

Here are just a few of the ways that EPA will reduce the environmental footprint of our Philadelphia office.

By September 2008, EPA will reduce the electricity used by our computers by 65 percent; recycle 100 percent of our electronic and lighting waste; increase the overall recycling rate in our building to 60 percent; and reduce paper use in printing and copying by 40 percent. Other businesses and organizations can do the same -- help the environment and save money.

    Prospective Performance Track members must meet strict EPA guidelines before acceptance. At a minimum, facilities must employ a comprehensive environmental management system which systematically identifies and reduces environmental impacts and increases operating efficiencies. In addition to enhancing environmental performance, facilities are expected to increase environmental awareness in their communities. They must also undergo thorough screening to assure they have a strong record of compliance with environmental laws.

    Performance Track Members are considered to be good environmental neighbors and enjoy formal recognition in their communities. EPA and the states are also developing additional benefits that will reduce some of the routine transaction costs of regulation, allowing these facilities to focus more on reaping environmental results.

    If current trends hold, we will continue to see environmental improvements throughout America that surpass the standards set by law. Performance Track and similar programs will never completely replace the need for strict laws and tough enforcement. But as long as such programs offer greater environmental protections through committed stewardship, EPA will continue to extend common-sense incentives to those that deserve them.

    Public or private facilities of any type, size, or economic sector can apply to be considered for the Performance Track Program.

    For more information on Performance Track go to: http://www.epa.gov/performancetrack/about.htm.

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