Bush directs feds to be energy-efficient

Agencies should assure that they use environmentally sound and energy-efficient policies when they acquire electronic products under an executive order that President Bush issued today.

The president wants government to do its part to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions through reduced energy intensity by 3 percent annually through 2015 or 30 percent by the end of that time period.

Among the provisions, agencies are to use electronic products that meet the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool standards and enable the Energy Star feature on agency computers and monitors. Agencies should put in place policies to extend the useful life of their electronic equipment and dispose of that equipment in an environmentally sound way.

Agencies should use environmental management systems to address environmental aspects of internal agency operations and activities, such as energy and transportation functions. The executive order also calls for environmental management education and training, reviews and audits, and that contractors comply with the provisions.

By the end of February, agencies are to designate a senior official to manage the implementation of the environmental and energy-efficient provisions who will report to the Office of Management and Budget and the Council on Environmental Quality.

Some federal agencies already are improving energy efficiency and environmental protection. The General Services Administration, through its Energy Center of Expertise, reduces federal utility costs by promoting the best energy use, said GSA Administrator Lurita Doan. For example, the Binghamton, N.Y., Federal Building is the first federal facility powered completely by renewable energy, in this case wind power produced by a wind turbine installed at a wind farm in a small New York community.

"Our resources are offered to all federal agencies and non-profit organizations," she said.

The Environmental Protection Agency certifies equipment and programs as energy-efficient through its Energy Star program. Federal buyers are supposed to purchase under that category where there is one. Energy Star has focused on computers and monitors but in April will expand its categories of products to copiers, printers and fax machines.

In July, new standards will cover desktop and notebook PCs and PC-based servers.

Congress has weighed in also. It passed and the president signed into law H.R. 5646 in December to require the Energy Star program to analyze data centers' energy consumption. Data centers consume a lot of energy and less than 50 percent of the electricity goes to the servers' CPUs, EPA has said.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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