Commerce.gov is getting a facelift soon. See the new design.
Syndicate content

Blog Category: Environment

Commerce Teams Receive GreenGov Presidential Award

Today, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) announced the fourth annual winners of the GreenGov Presidential Awards, which honor Federal civilian and military personnel, as well as agency teams, facilities and programs that have taken innovative steps to reduce energy use and carbon pollution, curb waste, and save taxpayer dollars.

The Department of Commerce and a team from Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) were recognized as two of the eight award winners during a ceremony with senior administration officials today.

A team of National Marine Fisheries Service scientists and engineers at the Ted Stevens Research Institute in Juneau, Alaska, received an award in the category of Lean, Clean and Green for using seawater as a heat source to replace oil-fueled heat pumps and eliminate all carbon emissions. The staff developed a system to extract heat from seawater already being pumped through the lab to support research activities. The seawater heat pump is the latest of three projects the facility has spearheaded in order to reach zero carbon emissions.

The Department of Commerce was recognized for its joint efforts with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Global Change Research Program in the Climate Champion award category. The Federal agencies partnered to create an interactive sea level rise mapping and calculator tool that helps city planners identify and prepare for future flood risks. The team released the tool less than a year after Hurricane Sandy, allowing state and local planners to make better informed decisions that consider the risk in location and design of redevelopment projects. The tool uses the most up-to-date scientific information by providing assessments of future risks beyond current conditions.

4th Annual Energy and Environmental Stewardship Awards at the Department of Commerce

The winning team from NIST. From left to right:  Brian Dougherty (NIST), Dennis Campbell (NIST), Frederick Stephens (Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration and Senior Sustainability Officer), Daniel Gilmore (NIST), Stella Fiotes (NIST Chief Facilities Management Officer), and Jatin Patel (NIST).

The Department of Commerce celebrated Earth Day this week with its 4th annual Energy and Environmental Stewardship Awards ceremony.  The department’s Energy and Environmental Stewardship Awards honor outstanding efforts in promoting environmental stewardship and energy conservation across the department.  This year there were six winning teams:

  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology, honored for sourcing more than five percent of its energy from renewable sources in FY10;

  • The Herbert C. Hoover Building Green Team, honored for implementing a toner cartridge recycling and reuse program whose savings are estimated at $50,000 annually;

  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service’s Coastal Services Center in Charleston, S.C., honored for installing an innovative rainwater harvesting system to redirect stormwater from roofs into native planting beds and a rain garden;

  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, honored for reducing use and increasing recycling of toxic chemicals;

  • Members of the department’s Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan development team, honored for their success in drafting the department’s first Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan and establishing a dedicated sustainability communication network at Commerce;

  • And the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, honored for implementing a suite of projects ranging from the installation of innovative solar power technologies to the selection of alternative products for vessel maintenance that together have significantly reduced grid energy consumption, water consumption, and fleet petroleum use.  

The department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration and Senior Sustainability Officer, Fred Stephens, presented the awards to the winning teams during the Herbert C. Hoover Building’s Earth Day fair on April 20, 2011.  Congratulations to the winners! 

Earth Day Stats from the U.S. Department of Commerce

Wind turbines on a wind farm (DIS photo)

In honor of Earth Day, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Census Bureau has pulled together a sampling of green data on green initiatives being taken to protect the environment.

According to the American Community Survey (5-year estimates):

  • 0.5% of Americans bike to and from work. More men bike to work than women (0.7% vs. 0.3%).
  • 10.5% of U.S. residents carpool to work. Men are more likely to carpool than women (11% vs. 10%).
  • 5% of U.S. residents take public transportation to work. Women are more likely to take public transportation (5.4% vs. 4.6%).
  • About 36,000 households in the United States rely on solar energy to heat their homes.

In 2009, according to data from the American Community Survey, the New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island metropolitan area led in the nation in the percentage of workers who used public transportation at 30.5%, followed by the San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont metro area, at 14.6%.

The Census Bureau’s 2011 Statistical Abstract is an excellent source for additional green stats, including on solar and renewable energy (PDF), emissions from power generation, air quality, threatened and endangered wildlife and plant species, and emissions of greenhouse gases by type and source (PDF).

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.

Files

Commerce Commits to Environmental Management

Green arrows symbolizing reduce-reuse-recycleThe Department of Commerce has recently sponsored several initiatives to green the economy and enhance renewable energy, energy efficiency, and clean technology trade around the globe.  But the Department is also working internally to green its operations.  On December 9 Secretary Locke signed a new environmental policy renewing the Department of Commerce’s commitment to sustainability and environmental management (PDF).  The policy commits the Department to considering environmental impacts in all planning, purchasing, operating, and budget decisions; purchasing greener products; reducing energy, water, and fuel use; promoting reuse, recycling, and diversion of waste from landfills whenever possible; providing a safe and healthy work environment for its employees; complying with environmental laws and applicable executive orders; and implementing a Department-wide environmental management system applicable to all operating units, staff, and contractors.

The new policy is the final milestone for the new headquarters-level, Department-wide environmental management system (EMS), which has been under development for several months.  The EMS provides a set of roles, responsibilities, processes, and procedures for managing progress towards the Department’s Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan goals and reducing the Department’s environmental impacts.  Read more about the Department’s environmental management system or to download a copy of the new environmental policy (PDF).

Secretary Locke Underscores U.S.-Indonesia Partnership, Highlights Value to Economic and Environmental Health

Locke witnesses signing of first-ever Indonesia-U.S. Ocean Exploration Partnership MOUU.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke underscored shared U.S.-Indonesia economic and environmental commitments at an event today at Muara Baru, a commercial fishing port in North Jakarta. Locke addressed joint efforts to prevent illegal and unregulated fishing and witnessed the signing of the first-ever U.S.-Indonesia ocean exploration agreement. He was joined by Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Agung Laksono, Research and Technology Minister Suharna Surapranata, Secretary for People's Welfare Indroyono Soesilo, and Dr. Gellwynn Jusuf, Director General for Research, Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries.

Read more

NOAA: Deepwater Incident, Gulf of Mexico Effort

Trajectory map--PDF.

The Deepwater Horizon incident declared a Spill of National Significance (SONS). A SONS is defined as "a spill that, due to its severity, size, location, actual or potential impact on the public health and welfare or the environment, or the necessary response effort, is so complex that it requires extraordinary coordination of federal, state, local and responsible party resources to contain and clean up the discharge," and allows greater federal involvement. Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is assisting the Unified Command in evaluating a new technique to apply dispersants to oil at the source—5000’ below the surface. If successful, this would keep plumes and sheens from forming. (More) (NOAA-Deepwater) (Trajectory map 1—PDF) (IncidentNews: Deepwater Horizon)

Secretaries Locke and Chu Focus on American Competitiveness at White House Clean Energy Forum

Locke and Chu seated at table responding to auidence questions. Click for larger image.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke hosted a Clean Energy Economy Forum with business leaders from around the country. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and other administration officials were also featured speakers at the Forum, which included a focus on ensuring American competitiveness and leadership in the emerging clean energy economy. In addition to addressing issues of competiveness, administration officials reiterated the need for a comprehensive energy plan that puts America back in control of its energy future and breaks a dependence on oil that threatens our economy, our environment and our national security. (Remarks) (More)

Secretary Locke and Energy Secretary Steven Chu Headline Clean Energy Economy Forum with Business Leaders

Secretary Chu and Locke at podium.

File photo

Commerce Secretary Locke and Energy Secretary Chu joined Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Carol Browner and other top administration officials in a Clean Energy Economy Forum at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building with business leaders from around the country. “If we create the right incentives on energy, it will drive demand for clean energy and efficiency that will foster the creation of new businesses and the jobs that come with them,” Locke said. The administration officials reiterated the need for a comprehensive energy plan that puts America back in control of its energy future and breaks a dependence on oil that threatens our economy, our environment, and our national security. (Remarks)

Statement from Under Secretary Blank on July 2009 Personal Income and Outlays

Blank portrait.

The U.S. Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis today released personal income and outlays for July 2009. Real personal spending increased 0.2 percent and personal income increased less than 0.1 percent, after decreasing 1.1 percent in June. “During the first half of the year, more than 95 percent of working families benefitted from tax relief under the Recovery Act, which has boosted Americans’ disposable income,” U.S. Commerce Under Secretary for Economic Affairs Rebecca Blank said. “This increase has helped stabilize economic conditions in the wake of the worst economic environment in generations.” (Release)