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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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Houston VA Lauded for Improving Air Quality and Reducing Traffic Congestion

November 3, 2009

Employees vanpool, carpool, and ride the bus to free up parking spaces for Veterans to use.

HOUSTON – The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC) was recently designated again as one of the Best Workplaces for Commuters by the Houston-Galveston Area Council. In addition, the Council recognized the MEDVAMC as a 2009 Clean Air Champion.

Almost 900 employees participate in the MEDVAMC Mass Transit Program, consisting of 79 vanpools, numerous carpools, and the Metro Bus system. The MEDVAMC runs the single, largest vanpool program in the city of Houston and has been recognized as a benchmark for not only VA facilities nationwide, but also within the Houston business community. This employee initiative frees up parking spaces on the VA complex for Veterans to use.

The results of the MEDVAMC’s efforts are also reflected in the environment and in the bottom line. The program reduces commuting costs not only for its employees, but also for all commuters by taking cars off the road and reducing traffic congestion. The production of ground-level ozone, the major component of smog, is reduced as well.

Houston-Galveston Area Council is the regional organization through which local governments consider issues and cooperate in solving area-wide problems and initiate efforts in anticipating and preventing problems, thus saving public funds.

Last year, the MEDVAMC earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s prestigious ENERGY STAR, the national symbol for superior energy efficiency and environmental protection, becoming only one of two hospitals in Houston with this designation.

Commercial buildings that earn the ENERGY STAR use an average of 40 percent less energy than typical buildings and also release 35 percent less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. MEDVAMC improved its energy performance by managing energy strategically across its entire organization and by making cost-effective improvements to its buildings.

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