WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama recently issued an executive order designed to cut the federal government’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 40 percent over the next decade from 2008 levels — saving taxpayers up to $18 billion in avoided energy costs. The plan also intends to increase the share of electricity the federal government consumes from renewable sources to 30 percent.

Complementing this effort, several major federal suppliers are announcing commitments to cut their own GHG emissions. Together, the combined results of the federal government actions and new supplier commitments are anticipated to reduce GHG emissions by 26 million metric tons by 2025 from 2008 levels, the equivalent of taking nearly 5.5 million cars off the road for a year. And, to encourage continued progress across the federal supply chain, the administration is releasing a new scorecard to publicly track self-reported emissions disclosures and progress for all major federal suppliers, who, together, represent more than $187 billion in federal spending and account for more than 40 percent of all federal contract dollars.

With a footprint that includes 360,000 buildings, 650,000 fleet vehicles, and $445 billion spent annually on goods and services, the federal government’s actions to reduce pollution, support renewable energy, and operate more efficiently can make a significant impact on national emissions. In addition to cutting emissions and increasing the use of renewable energy, the executive order outlines a number of additional measures to make the federal government’s operations more sustainable, efficient, and energy-secure while saving taxpayer dollars. Specifically, the executive order directs federal agencies to:

• Ensure 25 percent of their total energy (electric and thermal) consumption is from clean energy sources by 2025;

• Reduce energy use in federal buildings by 2.5 percent annually between 2015 and 2025;

• Reduce per-mile GHG emissions from federal fleets by 30 percent from 2014 levels by 2025 and increase the percentage of zero emission and plug-in hybrid vehicles in federal fleets; and

• Reduce water intensity in federal buildings by 2 percent per year through 2025.

In addition to setting aggressive new efficiency standards for federal agencies, the administration is engaging with major federal suppliers to encourage them to adopt similar practices. The administration hosted a roundtable, bringing some of the largest federal suppliers together to discuss the benefits of their GHG emission reduction targets or to make their first-ever corporate commitments to disclose emissions and set new reduction goals. The companies attending the roundtable each boast more than $1 billion a year in business with the U.S. government and together account for about $45 billion in federal contract spending. Combined, they bring a total GHG reduction commitment of 5 million metric tons between 2008 and 2020.

Publication date: 4/6/2015 

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