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Commerce on Track to Meet Most Federal Energy and Sustainability Goals

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Department of Commerce Sustainability and Energy Scorecard

Last week, as part of the administration’s initiative to reduce energy use, waste and costs in Federal operations, the Commerce Department joined the other Federal agencies in releasing our annual updates on energy and sustainability performance. In October 2009, President Obama issued Executive Order 13514 (PDF), directing Federal agencies to lead by example in clean energy and to meet energy, water, pollution, and waste reduction targets. These performance scorecards benchmark annual agency progress and enable us to target the best opportunities to improve efficiency, reduce pollution and eliminate waste.
This year, the Commerce Department met most of the federal goals. Commerce scored “Green,” which equates to meeting or exceeding the Federal requirements, on five of the seven metrics of sustainability and energy performance. Here’s how we’re doing:

  • Scope 1&2 Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Scope 1 GHG emissions originate from onsite sources such as natural gas combustion in boilers, and Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions associated with consumption of purchased electricity. Commerce achieved a 4.7 percent reduction in these emissions from 2010 to 2011 and will continue to strive to achieve the overall reduction by 2020.
  • Scope 3 Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Scope 3 emissions are largely made up of employee commuting emissions. As the Department grows, reducing these emissions becomes more difficult, but the Department has encouraged employees to use strategies such as telework, alternative work schedules, mass transit, and carpools. The result in 2011 was a reduction of more than 5 percent compared to 2010.  While the Department is currently above the 2008 baseline, it will continue to strive to achieve the overall reduction by 2020.
  • Energy Intensity: Energy intensity measures the Department’s total energy use per square foot of facility space. The Department has already reduced energy intensity by 18.5 percent from 2003, surpassing the 2011 goal, and is on track to exceed the 30 percent reduction goal by 2015.
  • Renewable Energy Usage: The Department has largely employed a strategy of using Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) to purchase renewable energy and meet this goal, while striving to increase on-site renewable projects and direct purchase renewable energy.  As a result, 6.3 percent of the Department’s electricity was provided by renewable sources in 2011, surpassing the 5 percent target.
  • Potable Water Intensity: Similar to energy intensity, this goal tracks the Department’s ability to reduce the amount of potable water use per square foot of facility space. Through innovative measures such as installing low-flow water fixtures and upgrading of HVAC cooling tower equipment the Department has already achieved a 26.8 percent reduction in water intensity compared to 2007, surpassing the 2020 target for this goal and setting the pace for all Federal agencies.
  • Fleet Petroleum Use: The Department has aggressively “smart-sized” its vehicle fleet in recent years, and older inefficient vehicles have been largely replaced with fuel-efficient models. This has resulted in a 16.2 percent reduction in fleet petroleum use from 2003 to 2011, putting the Department on track to meet the 20 percent reduction target by 2015.
  • Green Buildings: The Department is making significant strides toward meeting this goal. In 2011, 4.4 percent of Department buildings met the Five Guiding Principles of “green buildings.” This is a dramatic difference from 2008, when less than 1 percent of Department facilities were “green.” The Department projects further progress in the coming years.

A number of innovative initiatives are being implemented across Commerce’s bureaus to reach these goals. The Commerce Department will continue to be a leader on sustainability and efficiency within the Federal family.

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