Have feds met environmental milestones?

Council on Environmental Quality releases Greenhouse Gas Protocol

The federal community has met all the sustainability milestones White House environmental quality officials had hoped to achieve a year after President Barack Obama issued an executive order calling for the government to take a leadership role in improving environmental and energy performance, a White House official said today.

For example, the White House Council on Environmental Quality last week released Guidance on Federal Greenhouse Gas Accounting and Reporting that establishes governmentwide requirements for measuring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions associated with federal agency operations.

The guidance serves as the government’s official Greenhouse Gas Protocol that will be used by federal agencies to develop their first GHG inventories, Michelle Moore, federal environmental executive with the Office of the Federal Environment Executive, told attendees at a smart facilities forum in Washington, D.C. The “Smart Facilities Forum: Managing for Smart and Green Outcomes from the Enterprise to the Installation,” was sponsored by 1105 Government Information Group and IBM.


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Federal agencies will submit GHG inventories annually beginning in January 2011, as called for in the Executive Order on Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance (Executive Order 13514) signed by Obama on Oct. 5, 2009. The directive expands on executive orders on sustainability issued by the George W. Bush Administration. The Obama Administration has set a governmentwide greenhouse gas emissions reduction of 28 percent by 2020.

The announcement of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol was made at the GreenGov symposium, another important milestone, Moore said. Hosted by George Washington University, the symposium brought together leaders from federal, state and local governments, non-profit and academic communities and the private sector to identify opportunities around establishing a greening federal government.

In June, more than 50 federal agencies submitted sustainability plans to the Council on Environmental Quality and the Office of Management and Budget. Under the executive order, agencies were asked to develop, implement and annually update a plan that prioritizes actions based on meeting energy, water, and waste reduction targets.

The White House released Federal Agency Strategic Sustainability Performance Plans for the agencies on Sept. 9.

Sustainability means something different in the context of each agency’s mission, Moore said. “The way the Department of Defense thinks of sustainability in its mission is quite different from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy or small agencies such as The National Science Foundation and the National Capital Planning Commission."

“Each agency has its own sustainability plan that focuses on how they are going to achieve their goals that we all have in common based on the context of their mission,” Moore said.

Coming up at the beginning of next year are the first OMB scorecards that will grade each agency on how it is meeting sustainability performance targets, Moore said. Implementing the executive order will focus on integrating achievement of sustainability goals with agency mission and strategic planning.

“Meeting sustainability goals is about integrated planning,” Moore said.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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