Did you know that the Federal government produces more greenhouse gas pollution than any other company or organization in the US? The US government is actually the single largest energy consumer in the entire country. The federal government’s annual utility and fuel bill in 2008 was over $24.5 billion. Because the government is responsible for such a huge portion of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, President Obama recently created an Executive Order on Federal Sustainability called Leadership in Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance. His ambitious new policy, announced in July 2010, will reduce greenhouse gas pollution from non-direct sources such as employee commuting and travel by 13% by year 2020.
These new regulations demonstrate the level of Obama’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions produced by federal government operations. This all-new commitment further increases the government’s greenhouse gas reduction goals set in January 2010 which are expected to reduce the government’s greenhouse gas emission by 28% by 2020. The goals set in January are supposed to reduce greenhouse gas pollution produced from direct sources such as Federal fleet vehicles and buildings. The government owns 600,000 fleet vehicles and manages nearly 500,000 buildings. Clearly Obama is trying to set a good example for the entire country and is trying to create a green fleet for America.
Cumulatively, the Federal government’s greenhouse gas pollution reductions are expected to reach over 101 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (Co2). This is the equivalent of the emissions of 235 million barrels of oil. According to President Obama, “That energy goes towards lighting and heating government buildings, fueling fleet vehicles and powering federal projects across the country and around the world. The government has a responsibility to use that energy wisely, to reduce consumption, improve efficiency, use renewable energy, like wind and solar, and cut costs.”
Meeting these goals will require the cooperation of all 2 million men and women federal employees. Some projects implemented include doubling the Federal hybrid fleet to eliminating styrofoam cups from employee cafeterias. Other ideas, such as utilizing renewable energy to power Federal buildings and increasing bicycle commuting, are being considered as a way to reach the government’s sustainability goals. Additionally, the new regulations require that the projects must have a positive return on investment for taxpayers. To promote accountability, annual progress reports will be required by the Office of Management and Budget and will be reported online to the US public.
According to whitehouse.gov, this new sustainability plan is estimated to produce between $8-11 billion in energy savings. Whitehouse.gov also stated that this new plan “will ensure that the Federal Government leads by example in building the clean energy economy. Actions taken under this Executive Order will spur clean energy investments that create new private-sector jobs, drive long-term savings, build local market capacity, and foster innovation and entrepreneurship in clean energy industries.”