Government using score cards to track federal agencies’ greening efforts

April 19, 2011

Using a scoring system modeled on a traffic light, the Obama administration on Tuesday unveiled a new way to track how the government’s largest agencies and departments are scaling back their use of electricity, water and fuel.

In October 2009, President Obama ordered federal agencies to hit the gas on plans to cut the government’s greenhouse gas emissions by 28 percent by 2020.

He’s also ordering agencies to purchase more alternative-fuel vehicles and urging federal employees to make wider use of public transportation and bicycles in hopes of cutting the government’s indirect carbon footprint. The White House thinks its greening efforts, if undertaken properly, could cut government energy costs by $11 billion.

But score cards released Tuesday suggest that some of the largest departments are hitting speed bumps. Although the General Services Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Treasury Department scored green lights in all seven categories assessed, the Defense, Labor and Transportation departments earned several red lights.

The score cards assess whether agencies submitted new sustainability plans on time and reduced their energy intensity, or energy usage per square foot. Other criteria include whether an agency has boosted its use of alternative energy sources, whether it has cut its use of water and fuel, and whether at least five percent of an agency’s largest buildings are on track to meet new green building standards by 2015.


The Environmental Standards for Success is modeled on a traffic light scoring system. (Courtesy of The White House Council on Environmental Quality)

“Clearly almost every agency has a little bit of work to do in some areas,” said Nancy Sutley, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “Generally, we’re pretty pleased at how the agencies have done, both overall and individually.”

Sutley stressed that this year’s results are meant as a starting point, with the hope that agencies will improve their scores in the coming years.

Here is how some of the agencies performed:

Most green lights:

• The GSA, the EPA and the Treasury Department: They scored green lights in all categories.

• The Interior Department: It earned six out of seven green lights, but it got a red light because not enough of its buildings are meeting the new green standards.

Most red lights:

• Transportation Department: It earned four red lights for failing to boost its use of renewable-energy sources, for not cutting its water and fuel consumption, and for failing to meet the green building standards.

• Defense Department: It earned three red lights because it hasn’t cut its energy-intensity levels or fuel consumption enough and because just a fraction of its buildings meet the green building standards.

• Labor Department: It earned three red lights for failing to boost renewable-energy levels, for not cutting its water usage enough and because just .11 percent of its buildings meet the green building standards.

Agencies must submit revised sustainability plans by July.

Full score cards may be reviewed at www.WhiteHouse.gov/CEQ.

Ed O’Keefe is a congressional reporter with The Washington Post and covered the 2008 and 2012 presidential and congressional elections.
Comments
Show Comments
Most Read Politics