Key portions of Executive Order 13514, which was signed by President Obama in October 2009, are now being phased in. The order requires the federal government to reduce greenhouse gas pollution from “indirect sources,” such as employee travel and commuting, by 13 percent by 2010.* The order also expands the Administration’s greenhouse gas reduction targets from “direct sources,” such as automobiles and buildings owned or operated by the federal government, which were set in January 2010.
The federal government owns or manages nearly 500,000 buildings worldwide, pays more than $25 billion in utility and fuel bills every year, and employs two million people. Cumulatively, with both programs in place, reductions from federal government operations are hoped to eliminate 101 million metric tons of carbon dioxide — equivalent to the emissions generated from 235 million barrels of oil.
According to the President, every year the federal government consumes more energy than any single organization or company in the United States. “The government has a responsibility to use energy wisely, to reduce consumption, improve efficiency, use renewable energy, and cut costs,” he said.
However, Stephen Ashkin, CEO of Sustainable Dashboard Tool, LLC, says that “the ‘order’ does not specify exactly how these reductions will be determined and measured.” In fact, Federal officials admit measurements of some key portions of the Order are dependent on the “voluntary partnership” of government workers.
Ashkin says that measuring the use of natural resources can be complicated. Fortunately, more tools and dashboard systems are now being introduced that can help the federal government as well as other organizations and businesses monitor their use of natural resources.
“Without a tool or dashboard system in place to benchmark and monitor the use of fuel and other resources, many managers can only guess—and hope—that they are making significant reductions,” Ashkin says.