Greening the Government: The Contest

A few weeks ago, Barack Obama signed an executive order directing the federal government to start setting an example on sustainability. Seems like a reasonable goal, if the administration is serious about overhauling the rest of the economy.

The order directed agencies to set greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets for 2020 by the end of the year, and calls on them to improve energy efficiency, reduce oil and water use, and make more sustainable technology and product purchases.

On Monday the White House launched a new website for 1.8 million federal employees to face off on who can be the greenest of all. Top ideas will be presented to a sustainability steering committee. The challenge runs through the end of the month. There aren’t many ideas so far, but here are a few:

  • “To promote mass transit use and reduce carbon emissions, I think all agencies should include public transit information on their websites.”
  • “Just as some agencies provide parking or public transportation stipends, allow employees to apply those same funds to bicycle purchases.”
  • “Require all new constructions to meet minimum LEED standards.”
  • “All federally-owned buildings should be audited to identify energy wasted due to poor insulation, then renovated to address identified inefficiencies.”
  • “Old windows should be replaced with double paned windows to conserve heat.”

All extremely practical, really.


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  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.