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NSA Goes Green

Nsa Goes Green.  At the National Security Agency, we are committed to protecting the environment.
leafNSA GOES GREEN At the National Security Agency, we are committed to protecting the environment.

NSA wins EPA Environmental Excellence Award

Recycling CansOn September 16, 2009, NSA was formally recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency for its accomplishments in the area of recycling!

The annual Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Region 3, Environmental Achievement Awards program recognizes individuals and organizations who are making significant contributions to improving the environment in the mid-Atlantic region. Awards are given to those who demonstrate significant sustained, measurable, and replicable environmental results for their activities, there by reducing pollution and protecting environmental health.

Through the partnership of the Occupational Health Environmental and Safety Services (OHESS) organization, the Installations and Logistics organization (I&L), and the general workforce, over 11 million pounds (5,815 tons) of materials were diverted from landfills and recycled by the National Security Agency's Fort George G. Meade campus during the 2008 calendar year. There are four broad classes of sources for the recycled material from NSA: Facilities-Related materials, Automated Data Processing Equipment (ADPE), Universal Wastes, and Employee-Derived Materials.

Facility Related Materials:

The facilities-related recycled materials category contains the largest amount of recyclables at 3278 tons. Most of the facilities-related recyclables are derived from rehabilitation and construction projects. Recycling these materials prevented the use of about 1,650 cubic yards of landfill space or the equivalent to about 140 large dump truck loads! Materials that were recycled in this category in 2008 were:

Material Weight (tons
Construction Metal 1,110
Paving Millings 1,000
Raised Flooring 640
Cardboard 197
Concrete and Pavers 210
Ceiling Tiles 56
Cable Reels & Pallets 65
Employee Derived Materials:

The second largest recycling stream generated at NSA is derived from the employee activities. NSA has a robust, "Self-Help" in-office recycling program for plastic bottles, paper, newspapers, and aluminum cans. All offices are provided with collection bins and trash bags. The employees simply fill the bins and volunteer to periodically carry the accumulated materials to a centrally located collection area. Through this program, NSA employees recycled 1,709 tons of materials in this category 2008:

Material Weight (tons
Paper 1,585
Bottles & Cans 75
Toner Cartridges 50
Automated Data Processing Equipment:

At NSA, 783 tons of ADPE material were de-classified and then recycled in 2008. Specifically these items included:

Material Weight (tons
CPUs 615
Monitors 22
Chips & Circuit Boards 54
Electronic Equipment 92
Universal Waste:

Nearly 44 tons of universal wastes were recycled in 2008. For years, these materials were considered hazardous waste and they were disposed of instead of recycled. Now the recycling of these materials, instead of disposing as hazardous waste, has reduced our disposal costs and saved the government about $43,500 in hazardous waste handling fees.

Material Weight (tons
Light Bulbs 7
Lead Acid Batteries 33
Used oil 0.25
Miscellaneous Batteries 4

These record numbers represent a continuing trend of recycling excellence. The total tons of material recycled in 2006 and 2007 were 7,096 and 6,678 tons, respectively. Compared to the entire waste stream of all generated wastes, these recycled product volumes yield a waste diversion rate of 68% in 2007 and 67% in 2008. (The slightly lower weights of materials recorded from 2006 to 2008 is NOT due to reduced recycling efforts but rather a decline in remodeling and deconstruction activities.) Since diligent record keeping of all recycling activities began in 2002, the NSA has reduced the amount of waste send to landfills by 18% while increasing the amount of materials recycled by 75%.

The above mentioned agency wide efforts represent a concerted effort on the part of environmental specialists, engineers, and facility managers to create a green campus. We are proud of our accomplishments and look forward to building on our successes in the coming years.

NSA's Qualified Recycling Program Funds Innovative Technologies

Proceeds from our recycling activities are returned to the Agency's Qualified Recycling Program. The money is used to improve and encourage future recycling activities, to support pollution prevention initiatives, and to fund moral, welfare, and recreation activities that benefit the entire workforce. Some of the new initiatives approved by the NSA Recycling Committee include: purchase of a digester for the main cafeteria that reduces the volume and water content of the food and Styrofoam waste stream by about 80%; the purchase of bio-based fuel truck for collection of recycled materials; the purchase of three electric vehicles (Global Electric Motorcar – GEMs); and the purchase of "Big Belly" trash and recycling units which compact waste and flash a light to indicate when they require service.

The funds have also been used to pay for a feasibility study to convert our main Research & Development facility to a zero wastewater discharge system through the use of innovative engineering technologies. Major planning has begun to create a state of the art recycling staging area complete with covered dumpster storage, solar powered utility lighting, and pervious paving to control stormwater impact. This project is estimated to cost $600,000.00 and will be funded entirely with proceeds from recycling efforts!

Education and Outreach Activities:

The NSA's Occupational Health Environmental and Safety Services (OHESS) organization works with the NSA Qualified Recycling Program to host several educational events throughout the year. Each November, to promote America Recycles Day, the groups organize information kiosks to provide the workforce with county specific recycling information. The county offices in Maryland provide pamphlets and give-away items made from recycled products. The NSA QRP provides recycling bins for office use and educates all who stop about the successes of our "Self Help" program.

In April, OHESS and the QRP sponsor Earth Day activities that again help to educate the workforce about the importance of recycling and waste reduction. The QRP funds are used to purchase reusable coffee mugs and water bottles in an effort to reduce the huge quantities of bottles and cups that are utilized daily. Pens made from 100% biodegradable material and others made of 90% recycled content are also handed out to anyone who stops by our "Green" information booths.

Throughout the year, OHESS provides education sessions to every group of new employees during their orientation week. The new employees are shown educational videos on the importance of stormwater pollution prevention around campus (our most significant environmental impact) and are directed to check out the NSA recycling web pages and start recycling as soon as they arrive in their new office!


Date Posted: Nov 24, 2009 | Last Modified: Nov 24, 2009 | Last Reviewed: Nov 24, 2009