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Blog Category: Sustainability

Commerce on Track to Meet Most Federal Energy and Sustainability Goals

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.

Commerce Updates Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan and Publishes Climate Adaptation Policy

NIST Solar Array

On June 3, the U.S. Department of Commerce updated its Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan (SSPP), an 80-page roadmap to increasing its energy and environmental stewardship. The SSPP details the department’s current progress and plans for meeting targets in 8 key areas, from reducing greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption to increasing on-site generation of renewable energy and recycling.

Highlights from 2010 include the completion of a 120 KW solar array to power the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Kauai, Hawaii WWVH radio station, which is projected to save nearly $60,000 per year; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s construction of two green buildings and plans for completion of four more; and completion of Commerce’s first ever inventory of its greenhouse gas emissions.

As part of the SSPP update Secretary Locke issued the department’s first ever climate change adaptation policy, which commits Commerce to considering climate change impacts when undertaking planning, setting priorities for scientific research and investigations, and making decisions regarding its resources, programs, policies, and operations.

The new policy also commits Commerce to developing and publishing a department-wide Climate Adaptation Plan by June 4, 2012, which will evaluate risks and vulnerabilities to climate change and define the department’s strategy for managing climate change impacts in both the short and long term.

Smarter Manufacturing Makes Businesses More Competitive

Sustainable Manufacturing Initiative logo

Guest blog post by Morgan Barr, an International Economist within the Manufacturing and Services division at the International Trade Administration. She works on sustainable manufacturing issues as well as negotiations for trade agreements.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Sustainable Manufacturing Initiative (SMI) has developed tools and resources to help companies, particularly small and medium sized enterprises, implement sustainable business practices faster and more effectively. The benefits to manufacturers include lower energy and resource costs, increased marketability of products and services and lower regulatory costs and risk.

The Sustainable Manufacturing Initiative developed a number of business friendly resources that are available through its website:

  • Sustainable Business Clearinghouse - This searchable clearinghouse provides information and links to almost 900 federal and state programs and resources dedicated to supporting sustainable business practices.  It includes everything from lean and green assessments, to training, to financial assistance for green improvements.  Users can search by government or non-governmental programs, geographic location, sustainability issue, industry sector and type of assistance.
  • OECD Sustainable Manufacturing Metrics Toolkit - This toolkit provides a simplified set of core sustainability metrics for facilities and products that any company can use to both measure performance and make decisions on improvement.
  • Sustainable Manufacturing 101 Training - This training can be used to train employees anywhere in the company from purchasing to the production line. It is designed to take users through the various aspects of the practice, from energy efficiency to designing for the environment to remanufacturing. This module is currently not available, but scheduled to be completed by October 2011 and will be available on the SMI website.

U.S. Department of Commerce Releases Benchmarks for Energy and Sustainability Goals

Green Arrows Symbolizing Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

Today, the U.S. Department of Commerce released – for the first time – its fiscal year 2010 scorecard on sustainability and energy performance (PDF) to track progress in achieving the goals of its Sustainability Plan. Using this scorecard as a benchmark, the department will identify and track the best opportunities to reduce pollution, improve efficiency and cut costs before updating its plan in June.

The sustainability scorecard serves as an important tool to help the department identify targets for reducing waste and increasing efficiency. In 2010, the Commerce Department was on track to meet its goals for increasing renewable energy use and decreasing its fleet petroleum and potable water use. Compared with 2005, the department has reduced its fleet petroleum use by 18.4 percent; and since 2007, has reduced its potable water use by 20.3 percent.

Innovative green initiatives are being implemented across Commerce’s bureaus. The National Institute of Standards and Technology, for example, is installing a vehicle charging station for hybrid vehicles at its Gaithersburg, Md., campus. Along with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NIST is also installing solar panels to increase its renewable energy use. At Commerce headquarters, the department participates in a multi-year green power purchase agreement to meet part of the building’s electrical energy needs.

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NOAA and Partners Announce South Atlantic Alliance

Image of diver approaching underwater marine life. Click for larger image.

Representatives from Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida announced the formation of a partnership to better manage and protect ocean and coastal resources, ensure regional economic sustainability, and respond to disasters such as hurricanes. The announcement was made during the annual meeting of the Coastal States Organization in Charleston, S.C. (More)

Secretary Locke Opens ITA's Sustainability and U.S. Competitiveness Summit

ITA Sustainability and U.S. Competitiveness Summit logo. Click for larger image.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke addressed attendees of the International Trade Administration’s Sustainability and U.S. Competitiveness Summit at the Commerce Department. Representatives from nearly every federal agency and industry leaders from various business sectors discussed government efforts to support sustainable business practices and enhance U.S. competitiveness. Locke stressed manufacturing as a vital job source and said its revitalization is key to putting people back to work in good-paying jobs. Locke also introduced Commerce’s Sustainable Business Clearinghouse, an online information portal. (Remarks) (Web site)

Secretary Locke Hosts Meeting of U.S. Travel and Tourism Board

Secretary Locke (center) with participants. Click for larger image.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke hosted his first meeting with the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board (TTAB). Board members presented their recommendations regarding airport congestion, travel facilitation and the economic sustainability of the travel and tourism industry. “At Commerce, we’re working closely on tourism development with trade associations, destinations, and industry leaders,” Locke said. “We are tracking the industry because of its importance to the U.S. economy and understand the stress it is currently experiencing. I look forward to working with the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board to restore growth to this important sector.” (More)