The Denver Federal Center, pictured above, is already working to improve its energy efficiency by installing 35 acres of roof-mounted solar panels, enough to supply all of its electricity needs. Our guest blogger is Sean Pool, Special Assistant for the Energy Policy team at American Progress.
While a comprehensive clean energy air, clean energy jobs bill languishes in the Senate, the President is wielding his executive powers now to green the government itself, creating jobs and spurring investments in new technologies.
Yesterday the president announced that the nation’s largest consumer of energy -the Federal Government- will cut its emissions of global warming pollution by 28 percent by 2020.
This is a substantial reduction; much more aggressive than the economy-wide targets in pending legislation. Today’s announcement was made in accordance with Executive Order 13514 for “Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance.” Under the order, the President instructed each of the 35 federal agencies to perform a self-evaluation of their ability to reduce global warming pollution, and the target announced today is the aggregate of their commitments.
But there is more significance to this than meets the eye, and the benefits of EO 13514 are in fact a quadruple-whammy. First are the obvious benefits of becoming more efficient: lowering costs and reducing pollution. The White House projects that the government will save $8 to $11 billion in energy costs annually and conserve the equivalent of 205 million barrels of oil per year, which is like taking 17 million cars off the road.
Second, this order will also help build critical new capacity for the federal government to accurately measure, report, and reduce greenhouse gasses, something it has never had to learn how to do before. This expertise will be invaluable as the government moves to enact and enforce future laws limiting emissions in other sectors of the economy.
Third, “shift[ing] Federal energy expenses away from oil and towards local, clean energy” will spark new demand for energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, driving investment, spurring clean energy business growth and creating clean energy jobs. According to the official press release:
“Agencies are already taking actions that will contribute towards achieving their targets, such as installing solar arrays at military installations, tapping landfills for renewable energy, putting energy management systems in Federal buildings, and replacing older vehicles with more fuel efficient hybrid models.”
All of these actions will create work for America’s engineers, electricians, manufacturers, and construction workers producing, building, and retrofitting clean energy systems on the federal government’s many properties around the country. This will help smooth the transition to the clean energy economy by ensuring a stable source of demand for clean energy technologies, workers, and services for the next decade.
Fourth and finally, by moving forward now to invest in clean energy technologies, Obama has ensured that the Federal Government will lead by example, proving to the Congress and the world that it is possible to create jobs, save money, and reduce pollution all at the same time.
Here are a few specific examples of what some federal agencies are already doing to increase efficiency and reduce pollution:
- The Department of Health and Human Services has upgraded the energy management systems in several of its buildings, saving the agency $93,000
- The Department of Veterans Affairs will construct a wind turbine electricity system for its medical center at St. Cloud, Minnesota
- The Environmental Protection Agency will upgrade its vehicle fleet to increase fuel efficiency by 30 percent, reducing pollution by 25 percent
- The Denver Federal Center will install 35 acres of roof-mounted solar panels, which is enough to supply 100 percent of the facility’s electricity needs
- The Central Intelligence Agency’s two newest buildings will be LEED certified, reducing energy and water use by 20 and 40 percent, respectively