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Home > Feature Articles > Municipality Strategies for Sustainable Community Best Practices

Executive Order Focused on Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance

President Obama signed an Executive Order in October 2009 that sets sustainability goals for Federal agencies and focuses on making improvements in their environmental, energy and economic performance.

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It's time to contact federal agency facilities in your area or arena to see how you can help them meet the new requirements of Executive Order 13423.

"As the largest consumer of energy in the U.S. economy, the Federal government can and should lead by example when it comes to creating innovative ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency, conserve water, reduce waste, and use environmentally-responsible products and technologies," said President Obama. "This Executive Order builds on the momentum of the Recovery Act to help create a clean energy economy and demonstrates the Federal government’s commitment, over and above what is already being done, to reducing emissions and saving money."

Federal Agency Required to Meet 2020 GHG Reduction Targets

The Executive Order requires Federal agencies to
  • Set a 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target within 90 days
  • increase energy efficiency
  • reduce fleet petroleum consumption
  • conserve water
  • reduce waste
  • support sustainable communities
  • leverage Federal purchasing power to promote environmentally-responsible products and technologies.

The Federal government occupies nearly 500,000 buildings, operates more than 600,000 vehicles, employs more than 1.8 million civilians, and purchases more than $500 billion per year in goods and services. The Executive Order builds on and expands the energy reduction and environmental requirements of Executive Order 13423 by making reductions of greenhouse gas emissions a priority of the Federal government, and by requiring agencies to develop sustainability plans focused on cost-effective projects and programs.

Projected benefits to the taxpayer include substantial energy savings and avoided costs from improved efficiency. The Executive Order was developed by the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive, with input from the Federal agencies that are represented on the Steering Committee established by Executive Order 13423.

Executive Order 13423

The new Executive Order requires agencies to measure, manage, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions toward agency-defined targets. It describes a process by which agency goals will be set and reported to the President by the Chair of CEQ.

The Executive Order also requires agencies to meet a number of energy, water, and waste reduction targets, including:

  • 30% reduction in vehicle fleet petroleum use by 2020;
  • 26% improvement in water efficiency by 2020;
  • 50% recycling and waste diversion by 2015;
  • 95% of all applicable contracts will meet sustainability requirements;
  • Implementation of the 2030 net-zero-energy building requirement;
  • Implementation of the stormwater provisions of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, section 438; and
  • Development of guidance for sustainable Federal building locations in alignment with the Livability Principles put forward by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Transportation, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Implementation of the Executive Order will focus on integrating achievement of sustainability goals with agency mission and strategic planning to optimize performance and minimize implementation costs. Each agency will develop and carry out an integrated Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan that prioritizes the agency’s actions toward the goals of the Executive Order based on lifecycle return on investments. Implementation will be managed through the previously-established Office of the Federal Environmental Executive, working in close partnership with OMB, CEQ and the agencies.

Examples of Federal employees and their facilities promoting environmental stewardship exist throughout the country. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Energy Business Center has recently awarded a design-build contract for a wind turbine electric generation system to serve their Medical Center in St. Cloud, Minnesota. The 600-kW turbine installation, to be completed in spring 2011, is projected to supply up to 15 percent of the facility’s annual electricity usage.

The U.S. General Services Administration’s Denver Federal Center (DFC) in Lakewood, Colorado will be installing a 7 megawatt photovoltaic system as part of a large modernization effort. The primary goal of the project is to provide a reliable utility infrastructure to service tenant agencies for the next 50 years. This facility will feed renewable energy back into the grid on weekends and cover 30 acres.

Many federal agencies have received recognition for their work to integrate environmental considerations into their daily operations and management decisions including: the Air Force Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas for their "Sheppard Puts the R in Recycling" program, the Department of Treasury for their petroleum use reduction, the Department of Energy Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee for pollution prevention, the United States Postal Service for their Green Purchasing Program, U.S. Department of Agriculture "Sowing the Seeds for Change" Extreme Makeover Team in Deer River Ranger District in Minnesota; and the Department of Health & Human Services National Institutes of Health in Maryland for their laboratory decommissioning protocol.



Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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