Postal Service reduces greenhouse gas emissions

Thursday - 6/9/2011, 4:24pm EDT

Emil Dzuray, acting chief sustainability officer, U.S. Postal Service

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By Ruben Gomez
Federal News Radio

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) reduced the amount of carbon dioxide it emitted by more than 1 million metric tons - equivalent to annual emissions by more than 200,000 passenger vehicles, according to the agency's latest figures on greenhouse gas emissions.

Half of the eight percent decrease, which is based on a 2008 baseline, came from less energy consumption at postal facilities, according to USPS.

"We are proud to have reduced our facility energy-related emissions 12 percent from FY 2008 to FY 2010 - enough to power approximately 39,000 average American households for a year," said Tom Samara, vice president of facilities, in a statement.

USPS has engaged employees in what it calls "lean green teams," Emil Dzuray, acting chief sustainability officer, told Federal News Radio. "And that's just ... empowering our employees to look for ways to save energy, turn out the lights, close dock doors in our plant," recycle more and conserve water consumption.

Dzuray also credited what he calls traditional equipment upgrades, such as installing energy efficient HVAC and lighting systems. Other reductions in CO2 came from improvements to employee business travel and commuting, in addition to contracted transport.

The Postal Service uses "nearly 10,000 'fleet of feet' walking routes, nearly 70 bicycle routes and close to 80,000 'park and loop' routes, where carriers deliver mail on foot after driving to neighborhoods," according to a USPS statement.

Tips for other agencies

Dzuray offered ideas for other agencies to reduce their emissions.

  • Build a robust measurement and verification system early in the process: "What you don't want to do is claim success too early or not have a good understanding of what you can control if you're not measuring all of the processes that are going on."
  • Engage senior leaders and lead by example: "[For] many of our actions ... we've started with our headquarters facilities and rolled it out across the country."

The Postal Service said it aims to reduce energy consumption in facilities 30 percent by 2015 and greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent by 2020.