The White House released the Federal Agency Strategic Sustainability Performance Plans yesterday, with the goal of melding environmental, economic and energy goals to reduce emissions, create jobs and save taxpayers money. This marks the first time ever that federal agencies will submit sustainability goals, but it won't be the last. Following an executive order from October 2009, the agencies will have to set a greenhouse gas emissions target for 2020 and submit a plan for sustainable use of energy, fuel and water, to be updated annually and submitted for review to the Office of Management and Budget.
The Federal Government is the single largest energy consumer in the United States, with about half a million buildings and even more vehicles operating for a federal agency. About 2 million civilians are employed by the government. With luck, the new Sustainability Performance Plans will do more than set goals for government agencies -- the plans could also bring a new consciousness to agency employees. The ubiquity of Federal employees throughout the country could extend this commitment to sustainability to their home lives and behaviors as consumers. Either way, it is heartening to see the Federal Government "walking the walk," so to speak, in support of sustainability.
For a list of all the agencies involved and a look at the individual sustainability plans, click here.
A study just out of the Cambridge Conservation Initiative argues along the same lines, namely that conservation must be incorporated into the daily patterns and thought processes of consumers if any progress is to be made. Conservation must be viewed as a "global public good," according to the study, if biodiversity loss is to be stopped. It must go beyond policy and extend to individual's every-day choices. See the Eurekalert press release here.