Commerce Department’s Environmental Sustainability Efforts Create a More Efficient Workplace for Employees


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Graphic of January 2016 OMB Scorecard on Sustainability & Energy
Graphic of January 2016 OMB Scorecard on Sustainability & Energy

The U.S. Department of Commerce is dedicated to promoting environmental sustainability, making the environment one of its five core pillars of its strategic plan. The Department has done tremendous work in helping businesses and communities thrive in a changing environment and have made strides in terms of environmental conservation and awareness.  However, the Department of Commerce has made its own internal efforts to promote environmental sustainability within the Department, operating its offices and buildings to maximize energy efficiency while working to decrease their ecological footprint.

In accordance with the President’s Executive Order 13693, the Department is committed to fulfilling the President’s vision of building a clean energy economy. With a total investment of $54.9 million into energy performance contracts, the Department is focused on how it can incorporate alternative energy solutions into buildings and offices, reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced, and increase pollution prevention and waste reduction.

In partnership with the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP), the Department recently completed a renewable energy opportunities analysis (REopt) to develop financially feasible projects that will bring us closer to achieving our energy goals. The Department achieved its 2015 fiscal year renewable energy target of 10 percent by purchasing renewable energy certificates (RECs) and pursuing opportunities to install on-site clean and renewable energy technology. This progress can be seen in our plans to renovate the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Gaithersburg campus’s energy source to rely on a combined heat and power plant and the co-location and consolidation process of the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) office into the Suitland Federal Building.

The Commerce Department exceeded our 2020 greenhouse gas emissions scope 3 reduction target of 6 percent.  Greenhouse gas scope 3 emissions are those emissions that are indirectly attributable to the Department’s operations such as commuter emissions, and business travel emissions.  The Department continues to look for opportunities to reduce scope 3 carbon emissions by providing more telework opportunities for employees. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) employees alone have been able to save about $72 million in gas and 32,000 tons of emissions over the last year by teleworking four or five days per week.

We are continuing to make progress in pollution prevention and waste reduction through the environmental initiatives and work of individual offices and bureaus.  Census reviews its material safety data sheets for chemicals containing toxic or hazardous materials to identify items for substitution.  NIST has achieved a recycling rate of about 70 percent. The Department has also made an effort to promote sustainable acquisition, ensuring that biobased, energy efficiency, and recycled content requirements are specified in the Commerce Acquisition Manual.

The Department has emphasized the importance of pursuing environmental initiatives and that is reflected in their internal efforts to create an environmentally sustainable infrastructure. We will continue to raise awareness on key issues, such as climate change and water conservation, among Commerce employees to help create a more environmentally conscience culture. The progress towards building a clean energy economy is evident in the Department’s work in creating a more environmentally sustainable and efficient work place. The Department of Commerce will continue making the environment a priority, internally and externally, to build a more environmentally sustainable future. 

You can view the Department’s FY15 Sustainability Scorecard at

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Last updated: 2016-08-01 11:09

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