This summer, the U.S. Commerce Department published its first-ever Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan  (SSPP), a 48-page roadmap for reducing the department’s environmental impact over the next 10 years. The SSPP sets department-wide targets for reducing energy and water intensity – or usage per unit area – and vehicle fuel use and waste, and increasing the use of renewable power, electronic stewardship and sustainable acquisition. The plan also sets the department’s first-ever greenhouse gas reduction targets, which commit Commerce to reducing emissions from vehicle use and purchased energy by 21 percent and indirect emissions by six percent by 2020.
The department’s strategy includes aiming for Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) certification for its headquarters building, the Herbert C. Hoover Building in downtown Washington, D.C. Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Md., is also on the forefront of the department’s sustainability efforts, with plans to build a net-zero energy test facility and accompanying 600 kilowatt solar array.
These ambitious goals build upon already substantial energy savings. In Fiscal Year 2009, the Department of Commerce reduced its energy intensity in buildings by 23.4 percent, nearly twice the target of 12 percent for federal buildings. The department also achieved a 29.3 percent reduction in its fleet petroleum consumption, representing almost four times the federal target of eight percent. In addition, Commerce requires 75 percent of all new vehicles purchased to be alternative fuel vehicles, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is conducting energy audits of its ships.
Read more about Commerce’s Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan and other environmental and energy initiatives across the department in the latest issue of Energy and Environment Quarterly  (PDF), or read the entire Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan .