GSA Aims to Attract More Bees with Honey Policy

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), which provides workspace for more than one million federal workers, is working to improve its accommodations for many smaller but no less important tenants – namely the honey bees and other pollinators (e.g., butterflies, hummingbirds, bats) that make fruits, vegetables, flowers and other wonders of nature possible.Worker Bee-3

On June 20, 2014, the White House issued a Presidential Memorandum entitled Creating a Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and other Pollinators, which directed GSA and the Council on Environmental Quality to, within 90 days of the date of the memorandum, make federal landscape and site-maintenance guidelines more protective and considerate of these vital and often threatened creatures. GSA responded to this directive ahead of schedule with a supplemental revision to its P-100 Facilities Standards that directed facility design, construction, and management staff to comply with new pollinator guidelines for “all new project starts” with the aim of helping key local pollinators meet both their foraging and habitat needs.

The new pollinator guidelines encourage an assortment of complementary plant material in federal landscapes to ensure that an abundance of flowers is present throughout the growing season. As with the other guidelines in the P-100 Facilities Standards, these special-emphasis guidelines are performance based – allowing GSA’s most enthusiastic agency-clients to voluntarily aim for an even higher standard while also requiring all projects to meet a baseline standard. Since the facilities GSA constructs and manages are incredibly diverse in terms of scale, layout, function, and location — and the habitat requirements for the target pollinators are equally diverse — the agency, in crafting the new pollinator guidelines, worked hard to find a delicate balance between aspiration, flexibility, measurability, and practicality.

The new pollinator guidelines are currently going through a formal GSA Public Buildings Service internal review and comment process.  When that process concludes they will be adopted and incorporated into the formal P-100 Facilities Standards.

There’s more good news for pollinators today. The Council on Environmental Quality announced today its own guidelines to help federal agencies incorporate pollinator-friendly practices in new construction, building renovations, landscaping improvements, and facility leasing agreements at federal facilities and on federal lands. And this week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is hosting the 13th Annual National American Pollinator Protection Campaign International Conference.