In 2009, President Obama signed an Executive Order that challenged Federal agencies to lead by example in sustainable operations. He asked agencies to save energy and money, reduce their waste and water use, and use the Federal Government's purchasing power as the largest energy consumer in the U.S. economy to help grow clean energy jobs and reduce pollution in our communities.
Each year, the GreenGov Presidential Awards celebrate extraordinary achievement in the pursuit of President Obama's challenge, honoring the best and most innovative sustainability efforts and practices among leaders in the Federal workforce. For example, just a few of the 2011 winners include:
A team from the U.S. Department of the Interior that helped neighboring rural communities to responsibly dispose of electronic and hazardous waste in the Grand Canyon National Park and surrounding areas. Through partnerships with other community organizations and local governments, the employees helped divert more than 6 tons of waste from local community landfills, and created a model for other Federal facilities that are located away from densely populated areas where conventional recycling efforts are not feasible.
A team from Naval Base San Diego that incorporated new ideas and equipment in its operations to reduce waste and pollutants across its facility. Naval Base San Diego now saves $834,000 annually thanks to its energy, water and renewable energy projects.
- The Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Lab, which designed a net-zero energy data center that creates as much energy as it consumes by using the climate as a natural coolant, capturing waste heat to ventilate in the cooler months, and employing advanced equipment to minimize energy use. The data center consumes 81 percent less energy than its predecessor, and is expected to save $200,000 annually in electricity costs and reduce carbon emissions by nearly 5,000,000 pounds per year.
Nominations are now open for the 2012 GreenGov Presidential Awards here. I look forward to learning about and sharing the outstanding, innovative sustainability efforts of Federal leaders across the country.
Nancy Sutley is Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality