WASHINGTON - President Obama announced July 20 that the federal government will reduce greenhouse gas pollution from indirect sources, such as employee travel and commuting, by 13 percent by 2020, according to a release issued by the White House.
This commitment expands beyond the Administration's greenhouse gas reduction target from direct sources set in January 2010, such as federal fleets and buildings, by 2020. Cumulatively, greenhouse gas pollution reductions from federal government operations will total 101 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to the emissions from 235 million barrels of oil.
The reductions in greenhouse gas emissions is called for in President Obama's Executive Order 13514 on Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance, which requires the Federal government to lead by example towards a clean energy economy and reduce, measure, and report direct and indirect greenhouse gas pollution.
"Every year, the federal government consumes more energy than any other single organization or company in the United States," said President Obama. "That energy goes towards lighting and heating government buildings, fueling vehicles, and powering federal projects across the country and around the world. The government has a responsibility to use that energy wisely, to reduce consumption, improve efficiency, use renewable energy, like wind and solar, and cut costs."
The federal government is the single largest energy consumer in the U.S. economy. It owns 600,000 vehicles, owns and manages nearly 500,000 buildings, and paid a $24.5 billion utility and fuel bill in 2008. Meeting these targets will engage the nearly two million men and women across the country employed by federal agencies.
On October 19, 2009, the White House launched the GreenGov Challenge to ask all federal and military personnel to share ideas about how the federal community can lead by example, green the government, and meet the goals of President Obama's Executive Order on Federal Sustainability. The GreenGov Challenge generated more than 5,000 ideas and 165,000 votes from 14,000 federal employees.
Some GreenGov ideas have already been put into practice, from doubling the federal hybrid fleet to eliminating Styrofoam cups from agency cafeterias. Other ideas, such as utilizing renewable energy to power federal buildings and expanding bicycle commuting, are being incorporated into each federal agency's annual Sustainability Plan.
The Executive Order further requires that the actions federal agencies take to meet these goals have a positive return on investment for the American taxpayer. To promote accountability, annual progress will be measured by the Office of Management and Budget and reported online to the public.