As part of administration-wide efforts this week to commemorate Earth Day, the U.S. Department of Commerce held an award ceremony to recognize the 22 winners and runners-up of the Department's sixth annual Energy and Environmental Stewardship Awards yesterday. In accordance with President Obama’s Executive Order 13514, the awards recognize individual employees and teams across 13 categories for energy and environmental stewardship, including those that exemplify exceptional energy and/or environmental performance within their program, career field, or organization. Winners are selected by an award selection committee appointed by the Associate Director of the Office of Sustainable Energy and Environmental Programs, and then forwarded to Commerce's Senior Sustainability Officer for approval. The committee used degree of difficulty, cost-effectiveness, innovation, and results as criteria to evaluate the record 37 nominations received this year, up from 26 last year. Ellen Herbst, Senior Advisor to the Deputy Secretary performing the duties of the Chief Financial Officer, presented the award certificates to the winners in the Herbert C. Hoover Building (HCHB) auditorium.
Some examples of this year’s award winners include the U.S. Patent and Trademark’s Telework Team for aggressively implementing a telework program that has cumulatively saved 6,247 employees from driving over 51 million miles, avoided nearly $6 million in fuel costs, and eliminated 30,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, all just in fiscal year 2012. The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Net Zero Team won for outstanding organizational achievement in design and construction of a net-zero energy residential test facility that attains net-zero energy consumption. Another individual with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service won for leading by example in minimizing his carbon footprint around the office and in commuting by bicycle in all weather, inspiring numerous colleagues throughout his nearly 20 years with NOAA’s Fisheries Service.
The Department of Commerce also held the grand opening and ribbon cutting for a Green Store at HCHB, as part of its ongoing commitment to both environmental and financial stewardship. The store will operate under the concept that excess office supplies can be re-used by other offices. The concept came from a member of the HCHB Green Team, which led to a toner cartridge recycling program that has saved over $120,000 since it was implemented approximately a year ago. Following the success of the cartridge recycling program, the Green Team expanded to start collecting other unused but still good office supplies from offices Department-wide. All office supplies will be free to all Commerce offices within HCHB and offices are being encourage to donate their excess supplies to the Green Store. Volunteers from HCHB’s Green Team will initially staff the Green Store, but the longer term vision is for area high school student interns to operate the store to gain valuable work and business experience, while maintaining the zero net cost of operating the store.