Chesapeake Bay Field Office
Northeast Region


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Green Office Plan

The Chesapeake Bay Field Office and co-located Maryland Fisheries Resource Office and Law Enforcement Office are committed to reducing our carbon footprint by reducing energy use in the building, reducing solid waste, reducing water use, improving transportation efficiency and enhancing the outdoor landscape.

This plan addresses two presidential orders signed by both Presidents Bush and Clinton stating that “all Federal Departments lead by example to conserve energy in the workplace.” This plan is a work in progress and will be periodically updated. The plan addresses four categories: energy; solid waste; transportation; and water conservation and grounds.

All staff are encouraged to participate in the program and to provide input as the plan evolves. The actions in this plan will be carried out in three ways:

  • Changing office policies and procedures (e.g. placing a high priority on purchasing fuel efficient vehicles)
  • Individual actions (e.g. turning off lights and computers)
  • Employing conservation technologies (e.g. replacing inefficient light bulbs)

Reducing electricity use is a top priority of this plan. We are evaluating electrical use of lights, computers, printers, and other devices. A meter called Watts Up measures kilowatts used by plug-in devices to assess if putting devices on a timer or other action is warranted.  

Lights: An assessment of office lighting was completed and revealed that offices and common areas are over-lit, especially for viewing a computer monitor. Many light bulbs will be removed, some incandescent bulbs will be replaced with compact florescents, and certain lights in common areas will be put on motion sensors  This will reduce our energy used for lighting by up to 40%.
Outcome: estimated yearly energy savings of up to 20,500 kilowatts/year

How much are we using?
Watt's Up Electrical meter

Printers: Several printers will be put on digital timers to shut off at night and on weekends. Printers that are used infrequently will be unplugged.
Outcome: estimated yearly energy savings of 3,000 kilowatts/year 

Computer speakers: Replace speakers that have a 12 volt adapter with speakers that plug into the USB port and are powered by the computer. The 12 volt adapter draws a constant trickle of electricity even when speakers are turned off.
Outcome: estimated yearly energy savings of 300 kilowatts/year

Coffee Pot and Water Cooler: Both devices use power 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Both devices will be placed on timers to turn off at night and on weekends.
Outcome: estimated yearly energy savings of 1,100 kilowatts/year 

Refrigerators and Freezers: Clean and consolidate three freezers and two refrigerators. Unplug empty units and only plug in for special projects.
Outcome: estimated yearly energy savings of 800 kilowatts/year    

Individual Actions: According to the Federal Department of Energy staff should turn off lights if leaving an office for more than 3 minutes. Staff should also turn off power strip at night and unplug 12 v transformers when not in use. To encourage participation, a competition for the highest level of compliance could be held between the north and south wings of the office.
Outcome: estimated yearly energy savings of 1,000 kilowatts/year (minimum)

Energy conservation actions which require technology improvements with financial support from the building owner:

  • Hot water heater: Turn down temperature of thermostat and wrap tank with an insulating blanket.
  • Air leaks: Conduct a thorough investigation of air leaks in the building. Attend to the leaks as needed
  • Heating and Air Conditioning: reprogram the HVAC system to meet the Code of Federal Recommendations which states that “during non-working hours heating temperatures shall be set no higher than 55 degrees and air conditioning will not be provided except as necessary to return space temperatures to a suitable level for the beginning of working hours.”
  • Put space heaters in downstairs and upstairs hallways on timers
  • Install motion sensor on certain lights

Outcome: If the building owner is willing to carry out some or all of the suggestions, potentially tens of thousands of kilowatts of electricity will be saved each year. 

Solid Waste
Our goal is to reduce the amount of solid waste produced and increase the amount of items that are recycled.  

Printing; All documents larger than a few pages are printed on both sides of the page. Fax cover sheets and field itinerary sheets are printed on both sides of paper.

Recycling: The office has had a recycling program for many years. Items that are recycled include: paper; glass, plastic, and metal containers; plastic bags, and ni-cad batteries.

Faxing: Teach all staff to fax documents via their computer, eliminating cover sheets and printed documents.

Reducing unsolicited mail: Staff place unwanted mail in a box in the mail room. Volunteers will have names removed from mailing lists.

Future ideas: Develop an electronic filing system for standard paperwork (acquisition requests, purchase orders, etc.)

Outcome: reduction in office supply costs and cost to make copies, reduction in filing space needs and cost/time to manage hard copy files. This should be implemented at the regional or national level with standardized methods.

New signs in the loading dock.
Credit: Laurie Hewitt
New signs in the loading dock.

Vehicle purchases: A 2005 Executive Order (EO) has strict guidelines for fuel efficiency. One element of the EO states that 75% of new motor vehicle acquisitions must be alternative fuel vehicles. The FWS is required to reduce petroleum use in vehicles by 2% per year from FY 2005 through 2015 to 20%. Alternative fuel use must increase 10% each year annually. Fuel efficiency will be a major factor in consideration of new vehicle purchases.
Outcome: reduced greenhouse gasses and economic savings.

New signage reminding drivers to turn off their engines while making deliveries or loading equipment.

Vehicle maintenance: Each vehicle has a maintenance chart with scheduled maintenance items to be completed which allows vehicles to operate at peak efficiency.

Future ideas:

  • Develop an incentive program to ride share, bike or take public transportation to and from work.
  • Increase opportunities for tele-commuting.
  • Develop a bicycle pool to be used by staff for lunchtime errands or for exercise.
Views of the Chesapeake Bay Field Office BayScape -- a conservation landscape principle.
Credit: Laurie Hewitt
Views of the Chesapeake Bay Field Office BayScape -- conservation landscaping.

Grounds and Water Conservation
Conservation Landscaping: CBFO installed a BayScape garden in 1997.  The link to the design can be found at: The BayScapes garden replaced the front lawn that was regularly watered using thousands of gallons of water each year. The BayScape garden is not watered, except in times of drought.
Outcome: The garden saves water, reduces energy use (to pump water, less mowing), and provides a landscape beneficial to birds and pollinators. The garden also provides demonstration for the many office visitors.

Plant a Row for the Hungry: Beginning in 1998, CBFO volunteers have planted vegetables in a 25 x 25 foot patch next to the parking lot. The garden is part of the nationwide Plant a Row for the Hungry effort in which more than 10 million pounds of produce have been donated to those in need. The garden is tended during lunch hour and after work.  Garden is watered in the morning to minimize evaporative loss and a timer ensures that water will not be wasted.  Each year CBFO has donated several hundred pounds of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, squash, and melons to the Anne Arundel Food Bank and a local shelter  

Future ideas:

  • Develop a demonstration rain garden to capture and treat the first flush of parking lot runoff.
    • Plant trees/shrubs to naturalize hillside behind office and eliminate mowing the area           
  • Remove two large invasive Ailanthus trees on back hillside.
  • Eliminate nesting areas for house sparrow (building roof and boatyard roof).

Outcome: reduced non-point source pollution to Chesapeake Bay, reduced grounds maintenance costs, reduced carbon output from mowers, enhanced wildlife habitat

Also, see how we celebrated Earth Day this year.

Last updated: January 6, 2011