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RP Siegel headshot

Government Agencies Respond to Global Warming Challenge...Sort Of

Words by RP Siegel

Pursuant to President Obama's Executive Order on Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance, the Federal Government just released its first-ever comprehensive Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Inventory, which measures GHG emissions associated with its 2010 operations.

The targets include:

  • Reduce direct emissions such as those from fuels and buildings 28% by 2020

  • Reduce indirect emissions 13% by 2020, like those from employee business travel and employee commuting.

  • 30% reduction in vehicle fleet petroleum use by 2020;

  • 26% improvement in water efficiency by 2020;

  • 50% recycling and waste diversion by 2015;

  • 95% of all applicable contracts will meet sustainability requirements;

  • Implementation of the 2030 net-zero-energy building requirement;

  • Implementation of the stormwater provisions of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, section 438, and;

  • Development of guidance for sustainable Federal building locations in alignment with the Livability Principles put forward by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Transportation, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The government estimates savings of $11 billion over the next decade, including a reduction of 235 million barrels of oil.

The early results show an encouraging 3.6% reduction of CO2 equivalent over 2008 levels.

Each agency has its own targets and scorecard. The score cards each have the following seven categories:

  1. Scope 1&2 (Direct: e.g. Vehicles & buildings) GHG reduction

  2. Scope 3 (Indirect: e.g. Business travel) GHG reduction

  3. Energy intensity (Energy used per unit of GDP)

  4. Use of renewable energy

  5. Potable water intensity

  6. Fleet petroleum use

  7. Green buildings

A few highlights are given below.

Department of Agriculture – 15.9% reduction in energy intensity over 2003. 14.1% reduction in water intensity over 2007. The agency is not on track for fleet petroleum use.

Department of Defense - 11.2% reduction in energy intensity over 2003 (target 15%), 13% reduction in water intensity over 2007. Fell short on sustainable buildings target.

Department of Energy – DOE met all of its targets except vehicle fleet and buildings. It achieved a 22.7% reduction in energy intensity.

Department of Transportation – DOT fell short in 4 of the 7 categories. It realized a 24.4% reduction in energy intensity.

Environmental Protection Agency – EPA met all 7 of its targets for the year. Achieved a 24.9% reduction in fleet vehicle use. Received 129% of all energy from renewable sources (not quite sure how they did that).

It’s great that the government has the ability to set environmental standards for its internal operations. You can see the impressive savings that they have achieved as a result. Now if they would only take that same sense of commitment to a cleaner, safer planet and apply it to their respective missions, we might really be getting somewhere.

RP Siegel is the co-author of the eco-thriller Vapor Trails, the first in a series covering the human side of various sustainability issues including energy, food, and water.  Like airplanes, we all leave behind a vapor trail. And though we can easily see others’, we rarely see our own.

Follow RP Siegel on Twitter.

RP Siegel headshotRP Siegel

RP Siegel (1952-2021), was an author and inventor who shined a powerful light on numerous environmental and technological topics. His work appeared in TriplePundit, GreenBiz, Justmeans, CSRWire, Sustainable Brands, Grist, Strategy+Business, Mechanical Engineering,  Design News, PolicyInnovations, Social Earth, Environmental Science, 3BL Media, ThomasNet, Huffington Post, Eniday, and engineering.com among others . He was the co-author, with Roger Saillant, of Vapor Trails, an adventure novel that shows climate change from a human perspective. RP was a professional engineer - a prolific inventor with 53 patents and President of Rain Mountain LLC a an independent product development group. RP was the winner of the 2015 Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week blogging competition. RP passed away on September 30, 2021. We here at TriplePundit will always be grateful for his insight, wit and hard work.


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