Agency sustainability efforts moving slowly

Monday - 9/27/2010, 5:15pm EDT

Dave Fornari, principal for federal energy management and sustainability, Deloitte Consulting

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By Olivia Branco
Federal News Radio

Most agencies say it's important to implement sustainable practices, but some federal executives say their agencies are not making progress when it comes to being green.

That's the finding of "It's Not Easy Being Green," a survey by Deloitte Consulting and Government Executive's Government Business Council.

Dave Fornari, principal for federal energy management and sustainability at Deloitte Consulting, joined The Dorobek Insider to talk about the results of the survey, which was given to federal employees (GS-12 and above) about their sustainability efforts both at home and at work.

One of the most surprising statistics to Fornari was that about 80-85% of those surveyed said they were already making changes in their personal lifestyle in sustainability and energy management.

"Many of the employees felt they had an obligation to extend sustainability activities into the workplace," Fornari said.

Fornari explained that the sustainability changes are not difficult or complex.

"There are some everyday activities that people and employees can do that are very practical in nature," Fornari said, "including reducing waste, turning off their computers at night or when not being used. The impact can be tremendous."

Fornari both credited the Obama administration for being at the forefront of sustainability.

"This administration has launched some activities through some executive orders and some expectations, which was an impetuous and now the employees see what kind of impact you can have, how easy it is to achieve some results."

"In a lot of ways I think the federal government is actually taking the lead on energy management and sustainability initiatives," said Fornari. "It's not often that you hear the federal government is leading by example, here's one case where they are."

Fornari also noted how critical it is for leadership at federal organizations to commit themselves to the concept.

"It does require advocacy, it does require training, education and knowledge building and that clearly is a role of leaders in our workplace," Fornari said. "There is a 'follow the leader' approach that when you get strong leadership especially on a topic as important as this, as well embraced as this I think you'll see tremendous impact."

While the number of federal workers already committed to sustainability efforts is promising, Fornari explained where it can be improved.

There still is a need for communication, training, education around overall plan for the department and agency and I think what we have to be able to achieve now is bottling the enthusiasm of our workers and channel that into the programs that can lead to improvements in performance as well as cost-savings and hopefully a sustainable environment."

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