Thursday, June 13, 2013

How Sustainable Are Federal Agencies?

In October 2009, President Obama signed Executive Order 13514 on Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance, which established the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the movement toward sustainability as a priority for the federal government. The Executive Order directed Federal agencies to move toward sustainability by reducing their carbon pollution, using renewable energy sources, and meeting water and energy efficiency goals.

Recently, the Federal agencies released their scorecards for the past year, which use a rating system to determine how sustainable and energy efficient their buildings are. The scorecards use red, yellow, and green colors to determine their efficiency, with green being the best.

For example, the Department of Energy earned green ratings in several fields, such as "Use of Renewable Energy" and "Reduction in Energy Intensity," increasing their renewable energy by about 17% and decreasing their energy intensity by about 24%. However, the Department of Energy performed poorly, earning a red rating for their "Green Buildings," with only 2.7% of their buildings being sustainable.

The General Services Administration performed well, earning all green ratings, with 10% of their buildings being green and sustainable. They are saving $65 million of taxpayer money by becoming more energy efficient. The Environmental Protection Agency also did well, increasing their renewable energy use by 122% in place of nonrenewable energy. Although several agencies received green ratings in all of their categories, others did not. The Department of Education, NASA, and the Department of Health and Human Services, for example, have not met many of their 2020 goals.

Although the federal government is making great strides in the movement toward sustainable living and energy efficiency, receiving green ratings in several categories such as renewable energy use and green house gas reduction, a number of the agencies have still not met their green building goals, despite having a number of LEED certified buildings in their possession. However, their dedication to efficient energy use is saving billions of taxpayers' money while helping the environment, and it may take more time before they complete their goals.

To view all of the agencies' scorecards, visit