President Obama signed an Executive Order on Monday that sets sustainability goals for Federal agencies and focuses on making improvements in their environmental, energy and economic performance.

This new Executive Order demonstrates a commitment by the Obama Administration to lead by example in terms of environmental sustainability.

The Executive Order requires agencies to:

  • set a 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target within 90 days;
  • increase energy efficiency;
  • reduce fleet petroleum consumption;
  • conserve water;
  • reduce waste;
  • support sustainable communities;
  • leverage Federal purchasing power to promote environmentally-responsible products and technologies.

All federal agencies must meet specific energy, water, and waste reduction targets:

  • 30% reduction in vehicle fleet petroleum use by 2020;
  • 26% improvement in water efficiency by 2020;
  • 50% recycling and waste diversion by 2015;
  • 95% of all applicable contracts will meet sustainability requirements;
  • Implementation of the 2030 net-zero-energy building requirement;
  • Implementation of the stormwater provisions of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, section 438; and
  • Development of guidance for sustainable Federal building locations in alignment with the Livability Principles put forward by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Transportation, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Executive Order also describes a process by which agency goals will be set and reported to the President by the Chair of CEQ:

Each agency will develop and carry out an integrated Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan that prioritizes the agency’s actions toward the goals of the Executive Order based on lifecycle return on investments. Implementation will be managed through the previously-established Office of the Federal Environmental Executive, working in close partnership with OMB, CEQ and the agencies.

The efforts of the Federal government to become more environmentally responsible will have a substantial impact. 

The Federal government is the largest consumer of energy in the U.S. economy.  It occupies nearly 500,000 buildings, operates more than 600,000 vehicles, employs more than 1.8 million civilians, and purchases more than $500 billion per year in goods and services.