President Obama, who I can also describe as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of my company, the U.S. federal government, ordered us to start measuring our greenhouse gas emissions and set targets within 90 days to reduce them by the year 2020.
In the president’s Executive Order, which he issued October 5, there are two important things to bear in mind with this requirement. One is that the U.S. federal government is the largest energy consumer in the U.S. economy, occupying nearly 500,000 buildings, operating more than 600,000 vehicles, and purchasing more than $500 billion per year in goods and services. I am also one of more than 1.8 million civilian employees. In other words, that’s about the same number of employees as Walmart, the world’s largest employer, had in 2005.
Which brings me to the second point: President Obama wants his employees to lead by example “when it comes to creating innovative ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency, conserve water, reduce waste, and use environmentally-responsible products and technologies.”
Along with coming up with a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, we “feds” are also being asked to meet other targets such as 50 percent recycling and waste diversion by 2015, a 30 percent reduction in vehicle-fleet petroleum use by 2020, and a 26 percent improvement in water efficiency by 2020.
I’m curious to see what plans the State Department will come up with by January 5, 2010. From my tiny little corner of the federal government, I can see one way of making my workplace more green: automatic hand dryers as an alternative to paper towels.