Federal agencies will be required to increase their use of renewable energy to 20 percent of their total energy use by 2020, after President Barack Obama released a memorandum Dec. 5.
The initiative comes as part of Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which was put into action in 2009 by executive order. The new benchmark almost triples the current required use of renewable energy.
Under the new memorandum, agencies will be required to incorporate Green Button into their energy management practices. Green Button collects energy data and presents it in applications and analytical tools to allow agencies to better manage their consumption.
Agencies will also be required to install energy and water meters and to publicly disclose annual benchmark data.
The General Services Administration, Energy Department and the Environmental Protection Agency will create the Green Button pilot program, which will guide agencies on how to use Green Button in the future.
The federal government used about 1.1 trillion BTUs of energy in 2011, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. It takes about 1 pound of coal to produce 12,500 BTUs.
By 2015, agencies will have to increase renewable use to 10 percent.
Most environmental groups have lauded the president’s decision. However, organizations representing coal are not as enthusiastic.
“Time and time again, the president and members of his administration fail to acknowledge the multitude of economic and electric reliability consequences of supplanting renewable fuel sources with coal-fueled electricity, and now our federal government will become a model for bad policy,” said Laura Sheehan, senior vice president of communications at the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.
The Climate Action Plan has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 15 percent from 2008 levels and has reduced energy use per square foot in federal buildings by 9 percent, according to the administration.