The National Institute of Standards and Technology was developing master plans for its headquarters campus in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and laboratory campus in Boulder, Colorado, which together cover 7,000 personnel and more than 6.5 million gross square feet of facilities. These two master plans would be 20-year frameworks to support coordinated future development that accommodated personnel growth and emphasized sustainable design and stormwater management elements. For each master plan, NIST needed a parallel environmental review process, concurrent with plan development, to scope out the relevant environmental issues and prepare an environmental assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act. NIST turned to ERG for this support.
Throughout our work on this project, we coordinated extensively with NIST and the planning team to ensure consistency and avoid duplication of effort. For example, to inform master plan development during the internal scoping process, ERG prepared environmental constraints summaries for each campus and compared the relative benefits, impacts, and mitigation requirements for each of the several master plan concepts under consideration. When developing the environmental assessments, we coordinated frequently and extensively with NIST and the planning team to ensure consistency in the content and findings of each master plan and its associated environmental assessment. In accordance with Council on Environmental Quality guidance, we summarized and incorporated master plan content by reference where feasible to help ensure that the environmental assessments would be as concise as possible.
ERG also supported outreach to the public and thousands of NIST campus staff potentially affected by these plans. We drafted public outreach materials for three meetings, presented to the more than 200 attendees, reviewed all public comments, and made appropriate revisions to the environmental assessments in response to comments. ERG’s team also coordinated extensively with NIST and the planning team to identify and resolve potential concerns regarding the master plans’ impacts to stormwater, floodplains, wildlife, vegetation, and environmental justice. This highly coordinated process resulted in two timely and well-crafted master plans informed by environmental considerations and public input. The NIST Gaithersburg Master Plan earned a Best of Maryland award from Preservation Maryland and an Honor Award from the American Planning Association’s Federal Planning Division.