Sitting here on Election Day, hoping for some good news from the government sector, I received some, several hours before the first results started coming in. So I decided to share this, to have it waiting for you on the morning after, so no matter what life forms our dumbstruck public have chosen to represent them, and knowing that life will still go on, at least for a while in spite of that, here are the results of the Green Gov Presidential Awards that were recently announced in Washington.
Besides debating and passing laws, enforcing those laws, fighting wars and running the space program, much of what the 2.15 million people that constitute our federal government do from day to day, is not that different from what “regular” people do, that is, work in offices, maintain buildings and land, drive vehicles and so forth. So, like everyone else they have opportunities to improve the efficiency of their operations, save cost and become more sustainable. Of course, some of them also have opportunities we don’t have to make a difference through their work. In the process, they are also the single largest user of energy in the country, which is all the more reason why they need to set an example for the rest of us.
Here then, are the results of the 2010 GreenGov Presidential Awards. As you will see, some of them focus on the What, while others focus on the How. When challenged to “lead by example,” here is what they came up with.
- Good Neighbor Award: Nutrition and Food Services Team, Department of Veterans Affairs, Martinsburg, W.Va. Martinsburg VA Medical Center’s Nutrition and Food Services’ Green Kitchen brought together local farmers, VA staff and veterans to bring healthy, locally grown foods from veteran-owned farming businesses to the cafeteria. This initiative decreased landfill food waste by 86 percent, contributed 265 pounds of weekly food donations to a non-profit veteran’s transitional housing group.
- Building the Future Award: Ft. Belvoir Residential Communities Team, Department of Defense, Ft. Belvoir, Va. The Army’s Residential Communities Initiative, brought the Army and Ft. Belvoir Residential Communities LLC together to form a 50-year public-private partnership to develop, rehabilitate and construct 2,106 homes on 576 acres at the fort. The project includes solar panels and a storm water management system that captures and treats 90 percent of annual runoff from rainfall.
- Green Dream Team Award: Interagency Working Group on Climate Change and Health Team, Department of Health and Human Services Research Triangle Park, N.C.; Atlanta and Washington. The Interagency Working Group on Climate Change and Health, formed in 2009, is an interdisciplinary team of experts that focuses on the impacts of climate change on the health of our nation’s people and communities. The Working Group’s impressive report, A Human Health Perspective on Climate Change provides a baseline assessment of the current state of knowledge of the health impacts of climate change and provides projections of future impacts.
- Green Innovation Award: Sandia National Laboratories, Department of Energy, Albuquerque, N.M. Sandia National Lab’s Global Electric Motorcars team have designed and built 350 solar-powered Global Electric Motorcars carts as the primary means of campus transportation, avoiding a projected 184,800 pounds of carbon dioxide and 700 pounds of sulfur dioxide annually.
- Green Innovation Award: Barbara Lippiatt, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Department of Commerce, Gaithersburg, Md. Barbara Lippiatt developed the Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability (BEES), a software tool that measures the environmental performance of building materials and bio-based products using a life-cycle assessment from manufacturing through product use, maintenance, and disposal.
- Lean, Clean and Green Award: Idaho National Laboratory Team, Department of Energy, Idaho Falls, Idaho. The DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory has streamlines its fleet of 115 buses using alternative fuels, a move has decreased petroleum fuel consumption by 21 percent and increased alternative fuel use by 56 percent.
- Lean, Clean and Green Award: National Archives Energy Team, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Md. The National Archives and Records Administration has implemented sustainable infrastructure and operational changes at its Building II, located in Maryland. This project is estimated to reduce annual energy use by 24 billion BTUs, save more than $400,000 in taxpayer money and eliminate 2,000 tons of carbon emissions. (See video)
Finally, the Sustainability Hero Award went to Anna Jones-Crabtree who led a cross-functional team at the Forest Service to streamline their purchasing and waste processes, managed to reduce fleet miles-driven by approximately 720,000, increased bio-diesel and E-85 use by 12,800 gallons and 90,800 gallons, respectively, and saved more than 970 million gallons of water for a combined savings of over $10 million.
These are all positive steps, taken within an administration that understands the need for bold action on energy consumption and climate change. Let’s hope that if the balance of power shifts for the next two years, as predicted, we don’t lose what momentum we have on this critical issue.
RP Siegel is co-author of the eco-thriller Vapor Trails.
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