Putting the Spotlight on Federal Collaboration

Every day in my job I am inspired by the innovative solutions being brought forth by Federal employees. All over the country, Federal agencies are collaborating to help achieve the goals set by the President’s Executive Order on Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance. We knew their work could be replicated across the Nation, but we needed a platform to highlight their results and spread the word.

That’s why we launched the GreenGov Spotlight Communities initiative last year. CEQ asked agencies to tell us where they were working collectively to leverage regional resources toward a common goal, and we chose six projects to focus on. After a year of tracking progress and compiling results, I am excited to share with you the accomplishments of these projects. From cutting costs to reducing carbon emissions, these local efforts show how Federal agencies can lead by example in the areas of energy and sustainability:

  • The Federal Bike to Work Month Challenge increased bicycle commuting by Federal employees through a month long contest to see which agency could recruit the most riders and bike the most miles. The project included 2,100 riders making 20,000 trips and riding nearly 240,000 miles. This is equivalent to saving roughly 240,000 pounds of CO2 emissions.
  • Relevant Federal and local agencies collaborated on creating a National Capital Region Climate Risks Preparation and Adaptation Plan focused on past flooding events at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building to evaluate risks and vulnerabilities on agency operations. Participants held an all-day session to consider sea level rise and extreme weather impacts projected for the long-term, and are moving forward with establishing priorities for creating a climate preparation and adaptation plan for the IRS building and surrounding areas that is expected to be adaptable to many federal building in the National Capital Region.
  • The Comparison of Non-Traditional Water Treatment Cooling Towers project analyzed several non-chemical cooling tower treatment systems and found that the GSA Federal Center in Denver could reduce building operation costs through decreased water and chemical costs and improved chiller energy efficiency. In fiscal year 2012, the project helped save 318,135 gallons of water and more than $1,700 in costs.   
  • The Car Sharing pilot saw the Peace Corps researching potential opportunities with multiple agencies for vehicle sharing partnerships. The pilot study found that convenience, flexibility, time efficiency, cost, and reliability were key factors that influenced staff willingness to utilize car sharing services. GSA’s new car sharing pilot program will build on lessons learned and challenges identified for future research.
  • Seattle Federal Executive Board’s Business Case for Sustainability compiled sustainability business case stories from the Seattle Federal agency community to encourage shared sustainability practices across the Federal Government. The stories allowed the SFEB to monetize savings and efficiencies; develop processes, communication strategy, resources and tools for other FEBs to replicate; and publicize efforts contributing to a larger community impact.
  • The Federal Aggregated Solar Procurement Pilot involved multiple Federal agencies working together to demonstrate that combined procurement offers economies of scale, resulting in lower electricity bills for individual sites and increased renewable energy production. Solar site surveys were conducted at the potential properties and once the project is completed, it has the potential to serve as a model for how Federal entities nationwide can jointly procure renewable energy for their sites.

Jon Powers is the Federal Environmental Executive at the Council on Environmental Quality.

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