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White House releases agencies' energy-saving goals

Sep. 9, 2010 - 06:00AM   |  
By ANDY MEDICI   |   Comments
The Defense Department plans to reduce direct emissions by 34 percent and indirect emissions by 13.5 percent.
The Defense Department plans to reduce direct emissions by 34 percent and indirect emissions by 13.5 percent. (AIR FORCE)

Agencies across government are pledging to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade, but many say they are challenged in doing so because of expanding missions and conflicts with other mandates, according to agencies' environmental sustainability plans released today.

Under Executive Order 13514 signed last October, all executive agencies had to submit plans to reduce emissions, conserve energy and reduce their environmental footprints while producing positive returns for taxpayers.

The executive order also required agencies to submit specific reduction targets for direct and indirect emissions by 2020, as well as ideas to leverage agency purchasing power to promote sustainable practices and green technology.

Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions are direct emissions from agency activities, while scope 3 emissions are indirect, such as from employee travel.

The White House has set a target of reducing the government's overall direct emissions by 28 percent by 2020, as compared with a 2008 baseline; for indirect emissions, the target is 13 percent.

Among the highlights of the agency plans:

The Interior Department, which manages 20 percent of land in the U.S., proposes to increase its use of renewable energies and to purchase energy-efficient products. It plans to reduce direct emissions by 20 percent and indirect emissions by 9 percent.

It has also implemented a "Green DOI Challenge" to solicit employee ideas on emissions reductions.

But the department, which also pointed out the broad scope of its operations including the leasing of public lands for oil and gas extraction, said it must make decisions based on a variety of factors, including sustainability, cost and return to taxpayers.

The Defense Department plans to reduce direct emissions by 34 percent and indirect emissions by 13.5 percent. The plan includes getting 30 percent of eligible employees to telework at least once a week and diverting 50 percent of the department's waste away from landfills through recycling and conservation.

The report explores sustainability as a way to improve combat effectiveness and strengthen the military. "DoD's military's heavy reliance on fossil fuels creates significant risks and costs at a tactical, as well as a strategic level," the report says, and "costs can be measured in lost dollars, in reduced mission effectiveness, and in U.S. soldiers' lives."

The National Endowment for the Humanities notes its inability to control certain emissions. It said that it leases space within a General Services Administration building, has an 85 percent mass transit rate for its 175 employees and produces a small amount of emissions. It promised to reduce employee travel wherever possible.

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