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U.S. Post Office On Track To Meet All But One Sustainability Target

GinaMarie headshotWords by Gina-Marie Cheeseman
Leadership & Transparency
The Sustainability and Energy Scorecard of the USPS shows that it is on track to meet all of its goals, except reducing vehicle petroleum fuel use by 20 percent by 2015.  The Scorecard is a reporting tool that federal government agencies use to publicly report on the progress of their sustainability goals. The USPS has experienced a 6.4 percent increase in fuel use, which earned it a "red" score, meaning it did not meet its goal to achieve a 10 percent reduction since 2005. All other goals earned a "green" score, which means they are on track to meet targets. The USPS attributes the increase in petroleum fuel use to the "nation's growth." Almost one million addresses are added to the delivery network every year. In addition, the USPS has an aging fleet of delivery vehicles, with each vehicle typically more than 20 years old, and driven an average of 18.5 miles a day doing about 500 stops and starts. "Financial limitations prevent near term investment in a new fleet of vehicles," a press release states. The press release also points out that the USPS "continues to test alternate technologies to assure informed decisions when funding becomes available." It does have a "green fleet" consisting of over 8,000 mail carriers who deliver by walking,  almost 70 bicycle routes and almost 41,000 vehicles capable of running on ethanol, biodiesel, compressed natural gas, propane and electric vehicles. New York congressman Rep. Jose E. Serrano said in 2009 that it is time for the USPS to add 20,000 electric vehicles to its fleet. He introduced a bill that would have provided $2 billion to convert current mail trucks or manufacture news ones that use vehicle-to-grid technology, commonly called V2G. Not surprisingly the bill went nowhere. If passed, it would have allowed the USPS to lead the world in electric vehicle use. Areas where USPS scored green The areas where the USPS scored "green" include emissions reductions, energy use, and water use. The following is a breakdown of the three areas, including the targeted goal:
  • Scope 1 & 2 greenhouse (GHG) emissions reduction target of 20 percent by 2020--achieved an 11.1 percent reduction by 2011 and is on track to meet the target.
  • Scope 3 GHG emission reduction target of 20 percent by 2020--achieved a five percent reduction in 2011 and is on track to meet the target.
  • Reduction in energy use target of 30 percent by 2015--achieved a 22.4 percent reduction.
  • Reduction in potable water use target of 26 percent in 2020--achieved an 18.5 percent reduction.
Green roof installed on NYC distribution center, another in the works in Syracuse Installing green roofs on distribution centers across the country would be one way the USPS could meet its energy reduction targets, and even exceed them.  The USPS has a green roof at the Morgan Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC). Built in 1933 and designated an historical landmark in 1986, it is one of the largest mail processing facilities in the country at 109,000 square feet, almost 2.5 acres. The green roof was completed in 2009 and features native plants. Almost 90 percent of the original roof was recycled and reused on the new roof. It will last 50 years, twice as long as the roof it replaced, and will reduce the amount of storm runoff into the New York municipal water system by as much as 75 percent in summer and 40 percent in winter. It is also more energy efficient and was projected to save the USPS $30,000 a year in heating and cooling costs, however, it ended up saving over $1 million in the first year by reducing energy use 40 percent. A distributing center in the Syracuse area is currently under construction. The 11,300 square foot roof will consist of a new membrane, layers of drainage sheet, mat, separation fabric, indigenous vegetation, and a wind blanket. Like the green roof on the NYC distribution center, it will have a lifespan of up to 50 years, as long as the roof it will replace, and will reduce the amount of contaminants in stormwater runoff flowing into Syracuse's municipal water system. Photo: USPS
Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshotGina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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