Many of the USDA programs touch almost every American, every day. And as concerns grow about climate change, greenhouse gases and depleting natural resources, USDA continues creating opportunities for farmers, ranchers, forest landowners, public land managers and families in rural communities. These opportunities help these stakeholders generate prosperity in innovative, sustainable ways while conserving the Nation’s natural resources and preventing pollution.
USDA is committed to leading by example through fostering a clean energy economy, improving the environment by conducting operations in a sustainable and environmentally responsible manner and complying with environmental laws and regulations. To accomplish this, USDA focuses on the future. The Department recognizes the significance of global climate change and utilizes this knowledge to create and maintain conditions under which people and nature can exist in productive harmony.
Building upon past sustainability efforts, USDA released its 2013 Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan, which aligns sustainability goals, greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, and overarching objectives for sustainability with its Strategic Plan. The Sustainability Plan helps USDA meet the targets the President set for agencies in 2009 for reducing energy use, pollution and waste in agency operations, and saving taxpayer dollars as a result.
Moreover, the Sustainability Plan integrates all statutory and policy requirements into a single implementation framework for advancing sustainability goals together with existing Departmental goals. The Plan makes the best use of existing and available resources. It also includes methods for obtaining data needed to measure progress, evaluate results and improve performance. The Department’s 2013 Plan is an annual update to its first edition, which was developed in June 2010.
Specifically, the Sustainability Plan provides a review of past performance, addresses challenges to achieving sustainability, discusses lessons learned and outlines actions planned beyond 2013. So far, USDA has accomplished the following:
- Purchased and generated enough green power to meet 7.3 percent of the Department’s 2012 electricity use.
- 17.9 percent reduction in indirect greenhouse gas emissions compared to the 2008 base year.
- 5.5 percent reduction in direct greenhouse gas emissions compared to the 2008 base year.
- 21.3 percent reduction in energy intensity compared to the 2003 base year.
- 11.4 percent of buildings meet the Guiding Principles for Federal High Performance and Sustainable Buildings.
- 836.9 percent increase in alternative fuel consumption (for fleet vehicles) compared to the 2005 base year.
- 75 percent of the applicable (also known as covered) light duty vehicles USDA acquired are alternative fuel type.
- 12.6 percent reduction in potable water use compared to the 2007 base year.
More information about USDA’s 2013 Strategic Sustainability Plan is at http://www.dm.usda.gov/emd/sspp.htm.