The U.S. Government is the largest landowner in the world—so when they decide to go green, it amounts to huge impact. In this week’s Green Line Series, U.S. General Services Administration’s Northwest/Arctic Regional Administrator, George Northcroft, tells us how greening the government’s supply chain is driving a more sustainable economy in Oregon and beyond.
GoGreen Conference: When the government decides to green its supply chain—what does that encompass? How far is GSA going in terms of implementing sustainable best practices?
George Northcroft: GSA is looking at the big picture of our carbon footprint, and that includes the supply chain. Right now, we are looking at how we can incorporate sustainability requirements into our supply chain contracts. While we’re still working out the details, this would likely mean asking our suppliers to provide a greenhouse gas inventory of their own emissions, for GSA to use in procurement decisions. We are currently doing a pilot program called the GreenGov Supply Chain Partnership to work with industry to learn the best way to do this.
GG: The U.S. Government is naturally a huge consumer of goods, services and raw resources. How do your choices impact the overall supply chain of sustainable goods in this country?
GN: In our region alone – Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska – GSA leases or owns more than 600 office buildings, and procures $10 billion in goods and services each year. We have enormous leverage on the supply chain, and are using our purchasing power to encourage businesses to make more sustainable goods and services available, since there is an tremendous Federal market seeking them.
GG: Do you believe that GSA and other large organizations have a greater weight to pull in shifting the paradigm towards a green economy because your potential for impact is so much greater than most? If so, what kind of role is GSA pursuing and how?
GN: As the world’s biggest landlord and purchaser of goods and services, we have a special obligation to lead the shift to a green economy. In green building, we have established a Green Proving Ground project where innovative green-building technologies are being tested at Federal buildings across the country and the agency is learning more about those technologies to apply them elsewhere. We also manage the Federal vehicle fleet, and have been making steady progress toward greening our vehicles. In the last two years, we’ve moved the Federal fleet to 50% alternative fuel vehicles and that number is still increasing. We are conducting a 100-vehicle pilot of electric vehicles (Chevy Volts and Nissan Leafs, and Thinks) across the country to learn how electric vehicles can work in the government setting. As stewards of taxpayers dollars, the governments needs to be on the cutting edge and I think we are doing a good job of leveraging our purchasing power while making sound financial choices in a lean budget environment.