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Published on March 20th, 2015 | by Sandy Dechert


Obama & Fed Contractors Cut Emissions Today

March 20th, 2015 by  

Today, President Obama has once again set an example for corporate America by formally issuing an executive order that will cut the government’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40% (from 2008 levels) over the next decade. The order also specifies increasing the share of electricity the government consumes from renewable sources to 30%. The move is expected to save taxpayers up to $18 billion annually in future energy costs.

President Obama (realclearpolitics.org/file photo)

President Obama (file photo, realclearpolitics.org)

Since the government uses more energy than any other single large consumer in the nation, the commitment to cut emissions will have important immediate as well as ripple effects. The Obama administration is also hosting a roundtable today of companies that each have more than $1 billion per year in federal contracts. At this meeting, participants are discussing GHG reduction targets and/or making first-ever corporate commitments to disclose emissions and set new target levels for reductions.

Among the corporations involved:

  • IBM, one of the world’s largest providers of IT services and solutions,
  • GE, a global infrastructure and finance company,
  • Honeywell, a global technology and manufacturing company,
  • SRA International, a provider of IT solutions and professional services to government organizations,
  • Humana Inc., a health and well-being company,
  • CSC, a next-generation information technology services and solutions provider,
  • AECOM, a global infrastructure design, build, finance and operating services firm,
  • Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), a technology integrator for government and select commercial customers,
  • HP, one of the world’s largest providers of information technology infrastructure, software, services, and solutions,
  • Northrop Grumman Corporation, a global security company,
  • United Technologies Corporation (UTC), a global aerospace and commercial building industries company,
  • CH2M Hill, an employee-owned global consulting firm,
  • ADS Inc., one of the largest providers of operational equipment, procurement, and logistics solutions to the Department of Defense and various Federal agencies, and
  • Battelle, a leading nonprofit research and development organization.

The combined results of actions taken today by government and private business are expected to cut emissions by 26 million metric tons (from 2008 levels) by 2025 (equivalent to taking nearly 5.5 million cars off the road for a year).

Federal supplier greenhouse gas management scorecard (whitehouse.gov)The executive branch has put some muscle behind its business dealings by releasing a scorecard that will publicly track self-reported emissions disclosures and progress achieved by all federal suppliers within the $1 billion-plus category. The scorecard statistics are current as of March 10, 2015. These companies together represent more than 40% ($187 billion) of all federal contracting.

Since the government is far and away the single largest consumer of energy in the nation, federal emissions reductions and progress across the supply chain will have broad impacts, immediately encompassing 360,000 buildings, 650,000 fleet vehicles, and $445 billion spent annually on goods and services.

As well as cutting emissions and increasing use of renewables, the executive order directs federal agencies to achieve these specific goals:

  • Ensure that 25% of their total energy (electric and thermal) comes from clean energy sources by 2025.
  • Reduce energy use in federal buildings by 2.5% per year between 2015 and 2025.
  • Reduce per-mile greenhouse gas emissions from federal fleets by 30% (from 2014 levels) by 2025.
  • Increase the percentage of zero emission and plug-in hybrid vehicles in federal fleets.
  • Reduce water intensity in federal buildings by 2% per year through 2025.

The actions the President and corporate leaders are taking today further buttress the international commitment Obama made last fall to cut emissions when he met with Xi-Jinping, China’s president. This pledge was confirmed by both the official US representative and Secretary of State John Kerry in December’s UN talks at Lima. This benchmark involves cutting net US GHG emissions 26–28% (below 2005 levels) by 2025. It also builds on six years of administration and Cabinet-level commitment to environmental, energy, and economic performance, including increasing the share of renewable energy consumption to 9%. 


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About the Author

covers environmental, health, renewable and conventional energy, and climate change news. She's currently on the climate beat for Important Media, having attended last year's COP20 in Lima Peru. Sandy has also worked for groundbreaking environmental consultants and a Fortune 100 health care firm. She writes for several weblogs and attributes her modest success to an "indelible habit of poking around to satisfy my own curiosity."

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