While everyone was focused on the health care tsunami working its way through Congress last year, President Obama started a small ripple in the waters of government that could soon grow to a mighty torrent. In October, 2009 the President signed Executive Order 135114, Federal Leadership in Environmental Energy and Economic Performance, which mandates that federal agencies document their energy use, meet a challenging set of targets for sustainability, and reduce their emissions. The audits are due 180 days from the signing of the Executive Order.
The Executive Order requires that each federal agency and department perform a complete inventory of its energy use, develop a prioritized action plan that documents not just the environmental effects of mitigation efforts but their economic and social costs and benefits, set a 2020 greenhouse gas emission reduction target, and provide continual public reporting on progress towards the established goals. This is a big deal since many of these agencies and departments do not know how to conduct a complete energy audit or assess accurately the economic and social costs and benefits of remediation measures. One of the real kickers in the executive order is the requirement that the agencies and departments also include in their totals the energy footprint of all private sector work for which they contract. This means, for example, that the Department of Defense must include in the overall number the energy used by all the package delivery and shipping companies that it uses to move materials between U.S. installations or overseas.
There are not many federal agencies and departments with the knowledge base or analytic tools to perform the required audits. Moreover, they are even less capable of monitoring and assessing the emission performance of their private contractors. In many instances, the third parties have not captured the required data and do not have the technologies to do so now. Why is this important? Because there are likely to be cases in which agencies and departments with difficulty in meeting reduction targets for their core activities might be able to reach their goals through the greening of those from whom they buy goods and services.
There are companies out there that have taken the lead not just in reducing their own emissions but on developing the tools and techniques to gather the requisite data and analyze emission profiles. In many instances, these companies have not only done the thinking but have developed practical approaches for remediation based on both ecological and economic criteria. One such company is UPS, which has integrated its world class delivery management systems with its emissions analysis capabilities. As a result, UPS can provide customers with the most efficient and greenest means of moving their goods. In addition, UPS also can assist its customers in doing the federally mandated energy audits that will be coming due in the next few months. That presumably makes UPS a more attractive supplier to the government than some of its competitors.
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