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Federal Eye
Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 10/31/2011

What is the government doing to go green?


(Michael Sloan)
Federal agencies are buying more hybrid vehicles, installing energy-efficient light bulbs and using rainwater to hydrate outdoor landscaping as part of the Obama administration’s goals of reducing the government’s carbon footprint.

Eye Opener

Dozens of federal agencies — from the Pentagon to the Smithsonian — plan to release progress reports Monday on what they’re doing to reduce the government’s carbon footprint after President Obama ordered them to do so back in 2009. Since then, the White House has said that the government is aiming to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 28 percent by 2020.

But much of the planning is aspirational — agencies say they plan to make changes if funding eventually becomes available, or are in the process of making changes that won’t be completed for several years. And many of the plans are dual-purposed because they’re also helping agencies meet White House goals to save money on office supplies, to increase the use of telework among federal employees, or to consolidate or cancel government building leases to save money.

Here are some examples of what four departments — Defense, Homeland Security, Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency — have done or plan to do in the coming year:

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT:

— The Air Force last year increased its alternative fuel vehicle inventory by 2,112, or 27 percent, to 10,037 total alternative fuel vehicles.

— The Marine Corps, facing long trips for its recruiters and the lack of ethanol fueling stations near recruiting offices, plans to work on making recruiters aware of ethanol fueling stations in their areas.

— The Air Force Information Management Office is using a new telework center in Rosslyn, Va. for 48 workers, a project expected to save about $314,000 annually in costs.

— The Army plans to work with 14 of its facilities operating onsite landfills to explore using methane recovery systems to offset their energy purchases.

— The Pentagon plans to develop standard contract language that will make it clear that it’s looking for energy-efficient, water-efficient, environmentally-friendly products and services. The new language will apply to all purchases except weapons systems and their components and spare parts. (Hard to imagine an eco-friendly missile, eh?)

EPA:

— The agency said it is collecting rooftop runoff rainwater in large cisterns and storing the water in manufactured tanks or underground storage areas. The water is being used for flushing and cooling at EPA’s Kansas City, Kan., Science and Technology Center, for green roof irrigation at EPA’s Narragansett, R.I. laboratory, for toilet flushing at the Gulf Breeze Computational Science Building in Florida, and for landscape irrigation at the agency headquarters in Washington.

— All EPA facilities have waste reduction programs and recycle most paper, corrugated cardboard, glass, plastic, and aluminum containers. Many facilities also are recyling fluorescent bulbs, toner and ink jet cartridges and CDs, DVDs, scrap metal, wood and batteries. Several facilities are also composting food waste.

INTERIOR DEPARTMENT:

— The department said it is focused on reducing building energy levels and cutting its purchases of electricity in favor of using more renewable electricity. Officials also plan to phase out the department’s use of coal, switch to natural gas and cut the use of fossil fuels in department buildings and vehicles.

— The department is also consolidating its computer data centers to cut energy use — but this plan also helps achieve another White House goal to consolidate federal data centers.

DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY:

— The department says it is replacing older vehicles with high-efficiency vehicles with low greenhouse gas emissions. DHS also plans to consolidate some employee shuttle bus routes with other agencies to save on gas and money.

— The department developed a program to replace its law enforcement vehicles with alternative fuel vehicles. But the plans permit the purchase of non-hybrid vehicles, if necessary, to transport top dignitaries. (In other words, if the only bullet-proof SUV also happens to be a gas guzzler, so be it.)

DHS also is cutting travel costs — and thus its carbon footprint — by using more video conference technology and web-based meeting tools. It’s also increasing telework incentives and alternative work schedules to help workers cut their commutes — and thus carbon emissions. (But these goals also help meet administration-wide telework goals.)

Every agency’s updated plans will be available later Monday at http://sustainability.performance.gov/.

Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

For more, visit PostPolitics and The Fed Page.

By  |  06:00 AM ET, 10/31/2011

Categories:  Eye Opener, Administration

 
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