Council on Environmental Quality Blog

  • Coming Soon to a Delivery Route Near You: Cleaner Trucks

    Last week, I joined CEQ Deputy Director Gary Guzy as he kicked off an impressive convoy of electric, hybrid, and other advanced technology heavy-duty trucks in Baltimore. The Hybrid Truck Users Forum (HTUF) 2011 conference and expo – a collaboration of the clean transportation organization CALSTART and the U.S. Army's National Automotive Center  – brought together the top innovators of the trucking industry, from suppliers of advanced components and large truck manufacturers to fleet owners like Coca-Cola and UPS. 

    HTUF is a good example of the successful public-private partnerships that this Administration looks to foster. For the conference attendees, the "ride and drive" convoy was an opportunity to show off and try out fuel efficient and all-electric trucks of all shapes and sizes, many rolling through streets across the country today and others destined for tomorrow's delivery routes. For me, it was an exciting look at cutting-edge technologies and a reminder of the value of policies that foster this innovation.

    HTUF 2011

    CEQ Deputy Director Gary Guzy in the driver's seat of a hydraulic hybrid garbage truck.

    From day one, the Administration has supported investments in breakthrough clean energy technologies that will reduce air pollution, address climate change, improve our nation's energy security, help our industry outcompete the rest of the world, and drive long-term economic growth. For example:

    • Thanks to investments in clean energy, the U.S. is on track to produce 40% of the world's batteries for advanced vehicles by 2015, a major leap from producing just 2% of the world's batteries prior to the Recovery Act. 
    • A Presidential Memorandum issued this May directs agencies to implement government-wide fleet management practices that will ensure the Federal Government is leading by example, purchasing 100% alternative fuel vehicles by 2015 and reducing oil consumption by 30% by 2020.
    • Through public-private partnerships like the National Clean Fleets Partnership and EPA's SmartWay program, the Administration is helping large companies and the trucking industry reduce diesel and gasoline use in their fleets and incorporate electric vehicles, alternative fuels, and fuel-saving measures.
    • This summer, the Administration finalized first-ever fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards for heavy duty trucks. This is on top of the President's announcement of a framework for proposed fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards for cars and light trucks that would double the efficiency of our light duty vehicle fleet by 2025.

    With investment in technology innovation and standards that level the playing field for cleaner technologies to compete, the streets of our cities and towns will begin to look more like last week's convoy in Baltimore. Among the trucks on parade were class 8 tractor trailer hybrids, a class 8 fuel cell truck, hydraulic hybrid garbage trucks (interesting side note: EPA played a lead role in developing this technology), all-electric delivery vans and buses, hybrid work trucks, and bucket trucks with electrified boom lifts that eliminate the need to leave engines idling.

    Ride and Drive Convoy

    Some of the hybrid, electric, and other advanced-technology trucks on display at the Hybrid Truck Users Forum 2011 "ride and drive" convoy. Photo courtesy of CALSTART.

    Not only will weekly garbage pick-up bring less pollution to your neighborhood, but many of the cutting edge technology innovations will find their way into other applications – in our cars, small trucks, and even our military vehicles. If you wondered why the U.S. Army co-sponsored a hybrid truck event, it's because the technology being tested in delivery trucks today can help reduce fuel use on the battlefield tomorrow. Announcing the Department of Defense Operational Energy Strategy recently, the Deputy Secretary of Defense Bill Lynn, explained the impact of our military's fuel dependence:

    [T]he costs of that energy use aren't just financial, they are strategic and tactical. All too often those costs can be measured in lives lost moving and guarding fuel on the battlefield. These risks and costs associated with our energy use mean that we must change the way we manage energy on the battlefield, and strive to reduce demand at all levels of our forces.

    Finally, last week's technology showcase wasn't just a window into America's future; it was a glimpse of the future of transportation worldwide and the business opportunities for U.S. industry. Demand is growing across the globe for cleaner transportation options that use less fuel and create less pollution, and U.S. companies are positioning themselves to lead this market. At the conference last week, CALSTART kicked off a U.S.-China Clean Truck Technology Forum to help connect clean truck and bus technology firms with partners in China. This project is funded by a grant from the Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration, which looks for opportunities to translate American business leadership into trade opportunities abroad. 

    As the President said on his first Earth Day in office,

    Now, the choice we face is not between saving our environment and saving our economy. The choice we face is between prosperity and decline. We can remain the world's leading importer of oil, or we can become the world's leading exporter of clean energy. We can allow climate change to wreak unnatural havoc across the landscape, or we can create jobs working to prevent its worst effects. We can hand over the jobs of the 21st century to our competitors, or we can confront what countries in Europe and Asia have already recognized as both a challenge and an opportunity: The nation that leads the world in creating new energy sources will be the nation that leads the 21st-century global economy.

    We can be that nation, and from the leadership and innovation on display last week, I'd say we are on the road to get there.

    Drew McConville is Deputy Associate Director for Energy & Climate Change at the White House Council on Environmental Quality

  • GreenGov 2011: Connecting you with sustainability leaders for a leaner, greener, and more efficient government

    For the second year, we're hosting the GreenGov Symposium to bring leaders in sustainability together under one roof. Beginning in 2009 when President Obama issued Executive Order 13514, he challenged the Federal Government— the biggest energy consumer in the US economy, to become leaner, greener, and more efficient.

     

    GreenGov

    Held in Washington, DC, the three day symposium is your chance to partake in over 70 educational sessions beginning at 8:30 AM on Monday, October 31. Register now to join in discussions with:

    • The next generation of Clean Energy and Green leaders, including award-winning journalist Simran Sethi, and renowned explorer, social entrepreneur, and environmental advocate Philippe Cousteau Jr., on how they want to see the Federal Government lead by example.
    • Drivers in corporate innovation, in a panel conversation on sustainability strategies, hosted by Mother Nature Network and moderator Dr. Heidi Cullen.
    • Federal leaders like those from the Department of Defense, and their work with the private sector to develop large-scale renewable energy projects. Come meet Dr. Dorothy Robyn, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Installations and Environment.

    And hear directly from these and other experts how:

    • The Federal Government is greening its half-trillion dollar supply chain. Listen to Steve Leeds, GSA's Senior Sustainability Officer, in a conversation with Cindy Drucker, Global Director of Sustainability for SC Johnson.
    • The Federal Government has collaborated to make major strides in greener operations and practices. Join me, along with Mother Nature Network; Brian Deese, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council; Jon Powers, Special Advisor on Energy to the Assistant Secretary of the Army; Michael Robertson, General Services Administration Chief of Staff; and Rachael Tronstein, Clean Energy Advisor at the Department of Energy as they discuss how they are collaborating across government toward greener Federal buildings, fleets, and programs.

    You will also hear from:
    Thomas Armstrong, Director of National Coordination, U.S. Global Change Research Program, White House Office of Science and Technology;
    Tom Hicks, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, U.S. Navy;
    Kathleen Hogan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency, U.S. Department of Energy;
    Jason Miller, Special Assistant to the President for Manufacturing Policy, Executive Office of the President of the United States;
    Robert Peck, Commissioner, Public Buildings Sector, U.S. General Services Administration; and
    Tim Unruh, Program Manager, Federal Energy Management Program, U.S. Department of Energy.
     
    You won’t want to miss GreenGov 2011. Learn more, see the full agenda, and register at www.greengov2011.org.

    Michelle Moore is Federal Environmental Executive at the White House Council on Environmental Quality

  • Advancing Partnerships to Better Buildings

    Editor's Note: The blog introduces readers to Krista Sprenger, Vice President, Director of Sustainability for Lend Lease—  an international property and infrastructure group that was one of the first partners in President Obama's Better Buildings Challenge.

    "The time is not far off when companies will have to justify their worth to society…with greater emphasis being placed on environmental and social impact than straight economics." - Lend Lease Founder, Dick Dusseldorp

    Our founder had a basic principle that our company was part of the community and that we had a responsibility to focus on the environmental and the social value we might add. We strive to apply global best-practices and innovative, responsible environmental design initiatives and are committed to promoting energy efficiency, utilizing alternative energy sources with an overall target of designing communities that are zero net water, waste and carbon neutral. This is why partnering with the Department of Energy and the White House for the Better Buildings Challenge just made sense. 

    To support the Better Buildings Challenge, Lend Lease has set a goal to reduce energy consumption by 20% within our Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI) portfolio over the next 3-5 years. Our participation in the Better Buildings Challenge will mean more than 65.3 million square feet of real estate will be greener and in turn we will help American military families bring energy security home and most importantly create new jobs in the construction industry. 

    The Lend Lease Team

    Recently, representatives from all 10 Lend Lease projects met to validate their commitment to the program. An all-day meeting, focused on the goals and outcomes of the BBC, allowed all participants to understand the program and hear how their project can support. (BELOW) Participants from Lend Lease gather for a photo around the contract they all signed agreeing to do their part to help meet our goal.

    To achieve our reduction goals, we are taking a three pronged approach as part of the Challenge. We will continue our green retrofit program, and have hired residential building science specialists, IBACOS, to help us assess our portfolio and ensure we are implementing innovative and customized whole building energy retrofit and management solutions which reduce consumption and offer more efficient homes. To reduce grid consumption we will be significantly broadening our solar portfolio as well as incorporate additional renewable power options such as wind and geothermal. Finally, we will begin an aggressive behavior management/energy consumption reduction program aimed at teaching the 140,000 people who live or work in one of our communities how they can best conserve energy within their home and take personal responsibility to support a sustainable environment. 

    The Better Buildings Challenge allows Lend Lease to partner with like-minded organizations, like the Department of Energy, to support an initiative we strongly believe in. We are honored to be one of only 14 companies chosen to participate in the initial launch of the program, and look forward to continuing our partnership for years to come. 

    Krista Sprenger is Vice President, Director of Sustainability for the Lend Lease Americas region

  • A Physician, Scientist and Mother Clears the Air

    Editor's Note: This blog introduces readers to Kari Nadeau, MD, PhD, an Associate Professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine and a pediatrician who specializes in asthma and allergy.

    Recently, both the Clean Air Act and the EPA have been attacked by some who claim that the restrictions on air polluters are too intrusive, too expensive and too burdensome. They go on to question the validity of the EPA's studies. As a physician, scientist and mother of five young children, I believe that it is time to "clear the air". 

    In the United States and particularly in California, we are experiencing an epidemic in asthma and other pulmonary diseases that has reached unprecedented numbers. In the United States, asthma affects approximately 24 million people, of which an estimated 7 million are children. In the United States, asthma is the most common chronic disease in childhood, is one of the most common causes of hospitalization for children, and its incidence has increased dramatically (http://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?id=9&sub=42). According to CDC data, in 1980, 3.6% of U.S. children had asthma. By 1995, that number more than doubled to 7.5% (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/ad/ad381.pdf). Clearly, something needs to be done, and done quickly.

    As a physician, I see and treat patients with allergies and asthma each day I am in clinic. As research scientists, my colleagues and I follow the evidence to find a possible cause. And increasingly, evidence is pointing to air pollution as the culprit. 

    Our research led us to investigate the effects of air pollution on children in Fresno. According to the American Lung Association's State of the Air 2011, of the top 10 most polluted cities, 6 of them are in California, and one of them is Fresno, the center of our study. Our results were published last fall in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: Ambient Air Pollution Impairs Regulatory T-Cell Function in Asthma(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20920773). Much like the scientific evidence finally proved the link between smoking and lung cancer, our study exposed the critical evidence linking air pollution directly to asthma. Our research showed that the effects of air pollution in Fresno are associated with genetic changes in the immune cells of children. In other words, inhaling polluted air could affect the immune system's ability to do its job. The increasing numbers and severity of asthma are directly related to these genetic changes. These genetic changes are permanent.

    Yet, despite all the evidence implicating air pollution's deleterious impact on public health, some people continue to ignore or attack the evidence. Worse yet, some in Congress are trying to stop the Environmental Protection Agency for taking reasonable steps to clean up our polluted environment. What's so frustrating is we have the technology to clean up the dirtiest sources of air pollution, and still industry and their supporters in Congress refuse to clean up their act. We cannot afford to debate and wait a half century before we clear the air; we must act now. As parents, as citizens, and as a nation, we have a responsibility to provide for the common good and the common health. As long as we have the will to defend our right to clean air, we can ensure that our children's future will be a brighter and healthier one.

    Kari Nadeau, MD, PhD, is an Associate Professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine and a pediatrician who specializes in asthma and allergy. She is a member of the American Thoracic Society Environmental Health Policy Committee and a volunteer physician with the American Lung Association in California.

    Related Entries:
    Improving the Health of our Children and Communities: the Clean Air Act   
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/10/04/improving-health-our-children-and-communities-clean-air-act    

  • America's Great Outdoors: Results for American Communities

    Today, the Administration released a progress report on President Obama's America's Great Outdoors Initiative (AGO) that shows on-the-ground results for American communities. Built through unprecedented public outreach, AGO represents the President's vision for a 21st century conservation agenda to protect, connect, and restore the parks, rivers, open spaces and working lands American's clearly love.

    Here's what others have to say about how AGO is conserving and restoring critical outdoor spaces, and supporting thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity: 

    "The vision and potential of the America's Great Outdoors initiative is truly extraordinary and the progress made thus far is nothing short of remarkable. These accomplishments are a testament to the power of partnerships, the commitment of communities and the passion of youth. The young leaders of Outdoor Nation are grateful for the leadership of President Obama and his Administration and are actively implementing projects that will result in a lasting legacy of America's Great Outdoors."
    Christine Fanning, Executive Director, The Outdoor Foundation

    "American Rivers commends President Obama and his Administration for the significant progress made thus far in implementing the America's Great Outdoors initiative. Communities across the country took up the challenge to develop new homegrown conservation strategies for the 21st Century. Removing the Elwha River dams on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula; designating new water trails in Illinois, Indiana, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania; and laying the foundation for more water trails to be designated across the country are outstanding examples of how the America's Great Outdoors initiative is helping to protect and restore rivers and reconnect Americans to the natural world. Building on this early success, we look forward to working with the Administration in the coming year in support of the National Blueways Initiative to protect rivers and connect communities, from the Congaree River in South Carolina to the San Joaquin River in California."
    Wm. Robert Irvin, President and CEO, American Rivers

    "The Flint Hills and Dakota Grasslands are excellent examples of investing in the future of conservation. These precious gifts were given to us to steward, improve and pass along to generations yet unborn. Ducks Unlimited is pleased to partner with the Department of the Interior on these critically important issues and we look forward to doing our part to make the Dakota Grasslands a success." 
    Dale Hall, CEO, Ducks Unlimited

    "The conservation economy—recreation, restoration, and renewable energy—provides tremendous economic benefits to communities surrounding public lands, which are often in the rural areas that need them the most. The administration’s first Progress Report on the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative highlights many examples of the places where conservation of public lands supports jobs while at the same time protecting valued resources like clean air and clean water. Policies that create jobs by protecting public lands should be a part of the discussion that lawmakers have in this time of fiscal uncertainty."
    Christy Goldfuss, Director of the Public Lands Project, Center for American Progress

    "From the Gettysburg battlefield to Montana's Rocky Mountain Front and sage grouse habitat on Western ranches, Americans cherish their history, wildlife, local communities and way of life. The Conservation Fund commends America's Great Outdoors and the Administration for its leadership to conserve our land and waters for the enjoyment of all Americans. Investments from the Land and Water Conservation Fund in our nation's great network of parks, historic sites, public lands and working forests, farms and ranches will yield long term dividends for our children and grandchildren."
    Larry Selzer, President & CEO, The Conservation Fund

    "The Trust for Public Land commends the Administration for its commitment to the important goal of connecting more people to outdoor recreation opportunities. This AGO progress report shows the depth and breadth of the administration's effort over the past year, and builds a strong foundation for maintaining the link between outdoor recreation, healthy communities and a strong economy. From our work across the country - in cities and rural working landscapes alike - The Trust for Public Land knows how much Americans value the great outdoors and are willing to invest in it for the future."
    Kathy DeCoster, Vice President and Director of Federal Affairs, Trust for Public Land

    "It is much easier to take care of something you actually know. This is why the AGO Initiative is so very important; by working to help all Americans experience and enjoy their outdoor spaces, from mountain ranges and wild rivers to farms and city parks, we are making a thoughtful and prudent investment in the future of conservation in this country."
    Adam Cramer, Policy Architect, Outdoor Alliance

    "As stewards of America's State Parks we are pleased President Obama has engaged the nation in a dialog to highlight the importance of funding our public lands at the local, state and national level for the health, inspiration and well being of all Americans. The accomplishments made during the first eight months of the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative are a testament to the commitment by the president and the leaders of his administration to expand access to the outdoors by promoting recreation and investing in parks. America's State Parks strongly supports the AGO mission. We provide a significant economic impact estimated at $23 billion generated from 741 million visits in 2010 to the over 7,000 state park sites across America. The success of the America's Great Outdoors Initiative clearly benefits the health and happiness of all citizens. America's State Parks are pleased to join in supporting that achievement."
    Ruth Coleman, President, National Association of State Park Directors

    "At a time when our lands and waters face unprecedented attacks, America's Great Outdoors is a necessary reminder that Americans strongly support conservation. The report represents a continuation of the open conversation that the Obama administration has been having across the country for over a year. Like President Theodore Roosevelt's vision for conservation at the turn of the 20th century, America's Great Outdoors is a bipartisan conservation initiative for the 21st century. We look forward to working with the president and his administration on full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund as well as the exciting upcoming projects that include landscape-scale conservation in the Crown of the Continent region of the northern Rockies and the northern forests of New England and New York."
    William H. Meadows, President, The Wilderness Society

    "The release of the America's Great Outdoors Progress Report today marks a significant milestone, a time to reflect on “our glorious heritage” and consider our collective responsibility in assuring that our citizens, especially our children and youth, understand the value of the natural gifts they have been given and their role in assuring that the gifts are treasured and maintained for future generations. As noted in the report, Americans care about the legacy they have received and they want to pass along a clean and healthy environment to their children.  On behalf of The Corps Network, representing Service and Conservation Corps across the nation and the 33,000 young people enrolled, I extend appreciation to all who have provided leadership to the America’s Great Outdoors effort, to those who gave input to the report and especially to those who have assumed responsibility for implementation. Progress during this first year is most impressive! The increased focus on youth and young adults is welcomed and appreciated!  We will continue working in support of the America’s Great Outdoors initiative with a special focus on seeing the 21st Century Conservation Corps established. We gladly join forces with partners who see the value in reconnecting with the land. It would be easy in the midst of confusing times to lose sight of the importance of our lands, water and air – the very essence of our being. We cannot allow that to happen."
    Sally T. Prouty, President and CEO, The Corps Network

    "The America's Great Outdoors initiative puts an important focus on the value of conservation to the Western economy and our hunting and fishing traditions. The efforts of the President and Congress to preserve our heritage will also preserve American jobs and our clean water, wildlife, and wildlife habitat."
    Gaspar Perricone, Co-Director, Bull Moose Sportsmen's Alliance

    "Within their AGO Initiative, we applaud the Obama Administration for focusing its staff and funding on key restoration efforts in the Great Lakes, Jamaica Bay, greater Everglades ecosystem and Olympic National Park. This critical work will bring these areas back to life for visitors and native wildlife. In addition, we appreciate all of the work to get children and their parents outdoors and commemorating the Civil War by emphasizing the resulting Civil Rights movement and the need to protect more sacred ground of many battlefields."
    Thomas C. Kiernan, President, National Parks Conservation Association

    "The White House's commitment to America's Great Outdoors is critical to sustaining American jobs, as well as fish and wildlife, clean water and our nation's outdoor traditions. New research shows that the great outdoors and historic preservation generate more than $1 trillion in total economic activity and support 9.4 million jobs each year. America's Voice for Conservation, Recreation and Preservation, a coalition of more than 770 organizations, has united in support of conservation, recreation and preservation programs as a means to create jobs and improve the economy. Consequently, America's Great Outdoors represents a necessary investment in the hunting and fishing heritage and economic well-being that are crucial to millions of American citizens."
    Vaughn Collins, Director of Government Affairs, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

    "The accomplishments of America's Great Outdoors in such a short time demonstrate the promise of this approach to providing tangible and lasting benefits for the American people. This effort is protecting nature from the grass roots up by encouraging conservation at the community level. In turn, that will help ensure clean water supplies, support jobs in tourism and recreation, preserve working farms and ranches and protect wildlife for people and nature. In fact, a recent study found that the economic impacts of outdoor recreation, natural resource conservation and historic preservation activities in the United States contributed a minimum of $1.06 trillion dollars to the economy, created a $107 billion return on investment to federal, state and local governments through tax revenue and supported 9.4 million jobs. We commend the administration on the progress that has been made, and look forward to continuing this work together. An investment in the great outdoors is an investment in America – one which helps ensure the healthy land and water that are vital to our nation's strength."
    Bob Bendick, Director of U.S. Government Relations, The Nature Conservancy

    "This leadership from the Obama administration on America’s Great Outdoors is a good sign for our businesses that depend on a healthy Colorado River for our economic viability."
    Molly Mugglestone, Coordinator of Protect the Flows, a coalition of 250 businesses that depend on the Colorado River

    "The Student Conservation Association (SCA) is pleased that the first goal of the AGO is to engage young Americans in protecting our nation's lands through the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps. SCA and other youth corps are partnering with the federal agencies to engage diverse you and veterans in this initiative. Together we are protecting America's lands and developing tomorrow's conservation leaders."
    Dale Penny, President and CEO, Student Conservation Association

    "TU appreciates the hard work invested by our federal natural resource agency partners to advance the outstanding goals of the America's Great Outdoors Initiative. In a time of unprecedented budget cuts and reduced institutional capacity, the resource agencies have accomplished a strong record of success in the past year...Today's report is proof that that Nation is moving forward on a strong conservation agenda."
    Steve Moyer, Vice President of Government Affairs, Trout Unlimited

    "The recently released America's Great Outdoors Progress Report shows what the value of outdoor recreation is to this country. The protection of public lands and rivers is very important to our economy and the fly-fishing industry. For us it is simple: public lands are instrumental to the fly fishing industry and the opportunity to enjoy those venues leads to economic activity for our members and the industry we represent."
    Randi Swisher, President, American Fly Fishing Trade Association

    "The President's America's Great Outdoors initiative launched an important conversation about the value of our public lands for the outdoor recreation economy. With the release of this progress report, the president can now demonstrate his commitment to protecting the public lands and rivers near Denver and across the country. Designating new parks and monuments, funding critical conservation programs, and investing in our outdoors heritage protects wildlife habitat, creates recreational opportunity, and leads to economic activity and jobs."
    Maxwell Key, Owner/Founder, Cheeky Fly Fishing

    Jay Jensen is Associate Director for Land and Water Ecosystems at the White House Council on Environmental Quality

  • Better Buildings: A Shared Mission

    Editor's Note: This blog introduces readers to Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO and Founding Chair of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

    Things have changed in the building industry since 2008. Three years ago, the word "retrofit" was more likely to bring to mind Jack LaLanne than better homes and workplaces. Today, more and more people know that retrofits mean better buildings and better places to live and work. Soon, everyone will know.

    What is causing this change? What is moving retrofits and better buildings from water cooler conversations amongst engineers to something worthy of nods of approval across the spectrum of Americans?

    Certainly no single event, person, or organization has caused this groundswell of understanding, but examples of leadership abound. We've had President Clinton preach rolling up our sleeves and getting to work on retrofits. We've had the Empire State Building go green to save green and show everyone that it can be done anywhere, in any building. We've seen cities as different as New York City and Charlotte, N.C. take it upon themselves to go further in existing buildings in unique and creative ways. And most recently President Obama has demonstrated his commitment to the Green Building industry when he issued in October 2009 Executive Order 13514, which requires Federal agencies to move to green building practices. Since then we have seen agency after agency stand-up greener buildings. Also as part of the American Job Act, President Obama is making investments in Green schools by proposing a $25 billion investment in school infrastructure that will modernize at least 35,000 public schools. 

    Here at the U.S. Green Building Council, we've seen an explosion in the number of existing buildings attaining LEED. We certified almost 20 times more existing buildings in 2010 than we did in 2007.

    But potentially most impactful in the building industry has been the attention from the White House and President Obama. If you had asked me or anyone else in 2007 how many times the next President and Vice President would say "retrofit" in front of the entire nation, even the most optimistic of us would not have come close. People have lots to say about what goes on in Washington, D.C., but in this case our leaders got it right.

    One agency in particular has been tasked with focusing all that attention: the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). CEQ has the thankless but crucially important job of coordinating the Departments of Energy, Agriculture, Labor, Education, Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental Protection Agency. No small task.

    In homes, CEQ spearheaded the Recovery Through Retrofit initiative at the request of the Vice President's Middle Class Task Force, and is progressing in implementing the multi-pronged strategy to improve homes across the country. A home energy label, better trained workers, and access to financing are the deliverables in this ambitious plan.

    In commercial buildings, CEQ is the lead on implementing the President's Better Buildings Initiative through a variety of programs at the Department of Energy and the Small Business Administration that look to cut energy bills by $40 billion (with a B) per year.

    Nancy Sutley and her staff are doing yeoman's work behind the scenes to raise the profile of energy efficiency, retrofits, and green buildings broadly, and we are thrilled to award them our 2011 Leadership Award for Organizational Leadership in the Public Sector. While we know their efforts have had impact today in defining retrofits for the country, I'd venture to guess that we’ll value those impacts tenfold a decade from now. 

    CEQ and the White House have managed to make retrofits real in the minds of so many Americans, and for that they are worthy recipients of the 2011 Leadership Award, given today at this year's Greenbuild International Conference & Expo in Toronto. But even beyond that, I'd like to personally thank them for so elegantly capturing the mission of the U.S. Green Building Council, our members and our community: Better Buildings. Enough said.

    Rick Fedrizzi is President, CEO and Founding Chair of USGBC