Major government agencies – including NASA, the Tennessee Valley Authority and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – have for the first time published scorecards showing their progress against environmental measures.
The scorecards describe how an agency’s buildings and related operations meet guidelines for reducing their environmental impact. They are required by Executive Order 13514, signed by president Barack Obama in 2009. The order directed federal agencies to lead by example in clean energy and meet a range of energy, water, pollution and waste reduction targets.
Using the scorecards, the agencies will identify, monitor, and assess their efforts to reduce pollution, improve efficiency, and cut costs.
NASA’s scorecard shows that it exceeded a five percent target on renewable energy use set for federal agencies last year. Out of seven benchmarks, NASA received five green ratings and two yellow. A green rating indicates the benchmark has been met, and yellow indicates that progress is being made.
The agency said that in fiscal year 2011, it will exceed one million square feet of sustainable facilities through new construction and building rehabilitation.
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) scorecard shows the agency scoring green on four measures, plus one each of yellow, red and “to be determined.”
The TVA scorecard did not include the authority’s electricity generation portfolio. A corporation owned by the U.S. government, TVA provides electricity for utility and business customers in most of Tennessee and parts of Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.
Areas showing a need for improvement include reducing water use in its buildings (currently yellow on the scorecard) and retrofitting 15 percent of its existing buildings with technologies to make them more sustainable and environmentally friendly (currently red on the scorecard).
But the agency said it is on track to reduce the energy use of its office buildings, shops and warehouses by 30 percent by 2015 and to increase the amount of renewable energy that supports them. The scorecard said TVA is using almost half the energy of the federal average for these type of buildings.
TVA says it will implement more water-saving projects in its buildings and move all agency energy and water data to a new data management system to provide more accurate accounting for water reduction accomplishments.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) scorecard shows two green metrics, three red, and two “to be determined”.
USACE says its progress thus far includes development of comprehensive greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories for FY 08 (baseline) and FY 10; incorporating federal sustainability and energy metrics into the USACE Strategic Management System to provide commanders throughout USACE a dashboard tool to track their sustainability performance; and completion of facility energy and water evaluations at five of the USACE’s most energy intensive facilities.
Areas showing a need for improvement include facility energy and water intensity, non-tactical vehicle petroleum, sustainable acquisition, and increasing the use of renewable energy.
All three agencies are planning to post sustainability plans on their website by June.
Disclosure: The author’s spouse has been awarded a NASA research grant.