U.S. Government still Challenged by Energy Efficiency Example

U.S. Federal Agencies show progress towards sustainability, but funding and competing priorities conflict with ultimate energy efficiency goals.

Progress towards answering U.S. President Barack Obama's challenge to "lead by example" in achieving greater energy efficiency is mixed in federal agencies, according to a survey conducted by the Government Business Council (GBC), Government Executive's research division, with underwritten support by Siemens.

With looming budget cuts, federal managers are worried energy efficiency initiatives will fail without further fiscal support, but also see bureaucratic barriers and office culture that limit progress. With the federal government as the largest consumer of energy in the American economy, to modernize and improve energy efficiency practices, federal agencies must overcome cultural and resource limitations.

Key report findings include:

  • Only 40 percent of managers feel the Federal Government is currently "leading by example" when it comes to energy efficiency. A full 60 percent think otherwise or are unsure.
  • Nearly half of agencies lack proper funding for sustainability initiatives and say competing priorities interfere with implementation of green programs.
  • Just 44 percent of federal managers expect to work in a certified green building in the next decade.

Survey respondents include a random sample of 172 government executive's, print and online subscribers from 24 different federal agencies, encompassing civilian grade levels of GS-11 through GS-15 and military ranks of Lt. Cmdr. and Maj. through General and Admiral. Survey takers responded in late March and early April of 2012.

"This report highlights the ongoing battle for attention and resources in agencies as federal managers try to meet President Obama's call for sustainability. But managers are supportive of broad, federal energy policy and have made progress," said Erin Dian Dumbacher, director of research at the GBC. "This report highlights the work ahead of government as it strives to 'lead by example' in sustainability," she said.

"This report highlights the critical linkage between energy efficiency and mission effectiveness. Federal agencies are in a unique position to spearhead energy efficiency efforts and lead by example, not only in reducing energy waste and consumption, but also in reaping significant cost savings for taxpayers," said Barbara Humpton, Senior Vice President of Business Development at Siemens Government Technologies, Inc.

Picture of US Federal Building by kjetil_r reproduced under CCL.

Tuesday 1st May 2012


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