Agencies carrying out sustainability plans

Wednesday - 1/19/2011, 4:07pm EST

Michelle Moore, Federal Environmental Executive

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In September agencies released their sustainability plans detailing how they are going to reduce their carbon footprint. And in just a couple weeks agencies must file the first-ever comprehensive green house gas emissions report.

Michelle Moore, the Federal Environmental Executive with the Obama administration, said sustainability initiatives are even more relevant in the current age of austerity.

"When you're talking about sustainability, you really are talking about making your resources go as far as they can and looking at where we are wasting energy," Moore said in an interview with the DorobekINSIDER.

The federal government is the largest energy consumer in the U.S. economy, she said. If the government meets its greenhouse gas reduction goals, it could save $8-11 billion dollars by 2020, she said.

Within the federal government, the Defense Department is the largest energy consumer. DoD accounts for 2 percent of the entire country's petroleum use, according to a report by the Center for New American Security.

DoD is also a leading federal agency in setting sustainability goals, Moore said. And there are examples of sustainability initiatives across the services. A company of Marines has started carrying solar panels in the battlefield. And the Navy has a goal to make half its energy come from alternative fuel by 2020.

For the military, green initiatives are helping making troops more resilient and reducing threats to energy supply lines (if soldiers are carrying their own sources of energy, like solar panels.)

Agencies' telework initiatives have also become deeply tied to sustainability plans. The Obama administration launched the Green Gov Challenge last year calling on federal agencies to submit ideas to cut costs and save energy. Telework was one of the top-scoring suggestions from the challenge, Moore said.

"We've got some big initiatives, some big goals to reach in the near-term and looking out to 2020," she said. "Ultimately, the way we're going to get there are the men and women in the federal government sharing their creative solutions, joining green teams and giving us an opportunity to recognize their great work."

The White House recognizes these efforts with its Presidential Green Gov Awards.

Green contests are also occurring at the agenc level. Last year the General Services Administration held a contest to make a federal building into a model of environmental efficiency. The award for the winning design was $10,000.

On an individual level, federal employees can also help reduce their carbon footprint. From recycling cans and office paper, to turning off your computer monitor at night, "I tell you, those little steps really add up," Moore said.

Moore is a presenter at the AFFIRM luncheon Thursday about greening your agency.