The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) went above and beyond what was expected when they announced their goals to reduce petroleum fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions.

Although there are standard environmental requirements for federal agencies, the USPS was exempt from the recent Executive Order establishing energy guidelines. Through their own initiative, the USPS conducted a study to discover their environmental impact.

In their greenhouse gas emissions study, they included emissions from contract air transportation, as well as highway, rail and other transportation from across the 50 states and five U.S. territories. USPS discovered that their direct greenhouse gas emissions total 5.3 million tons, which is one twentieth of one percent of the total greenhouse gas emissions in America. The Environmental Protection Agency reported that amount is the equivalent of one million gasoline cars driving an average of 12,000 miles on the road each year.

In light of the recent study, the USPS has stated goals of reducing their energy use 30 percent by 2015, reducing their petroleum fuel use 20 percent by 2015 and reducing greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent by 2020.

According to Greenbiz, an online source for green business news, one way to help the agency achieve these goals will be tying the energy and fuel reduction goals to pay-for-performance goals of postal managers.

USPS E85 vehicle

USPS has been well-known for their environmental initiatives. This USPS vehicle is advertising its use of E85 fuel in St. Paul, Minnesota. Credit: Wikipedia.

The USPS has already increased its use of alternative fuel by 61 percent since 2005, and replaced 6,500 inefficient vehicles with more efficient hybrids, four-cylinder and flex-fuel models this year alone.

The Postal Service has received more than 75 major environmental awards including the Cradle to Cradle certification, which required them to go under intense reviews in many areas including the use of renewable energy and efficient water use during production, strategies for social responsibility, and more.

Other more recent awards have included the 2009 Climate Action Champion award and the 2009 Postal Technology International Environmental Achievement of the Year award, among others. The Postal Service’s green efforts have so far been responsible for saving the agency more than $1 million in costs. The Postal Service’s initiative as a federal agency will hopefully act as a good example and inspire others to reduce their emissions and pursue more sustainable business practices.

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