With the advent of e-mail, it may seem supremely inefficient to hand off correspondence to a third party for physical delivery when the click of a mouse is just so darn convenient. But while we may deride it as “snail mail,” the truth is that, on average, the US Postal Service (USPS) employs almost 600,000 employees to handle 170,574 million pieces of mail per year. And if you picture the infrastructure that sorts, stamps, and delivers all greeting cards, care packages, and bills, it’s easy to imagine that the whole enterprise requires energy… lots and lots of energy.
In the report’s introductory letter, Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe acknowledges the agencies energy demands and reiterates its commitment to a more sustainable future.
“With all those people, vehicles, and facilities, as you would expect, we have a big carbon footprint,” writes Donahoe. “That’s why ‘leaner, greener, faster, smarter’ is our sustainability call to action. It’s an environmentally responsible, as well as a good, business decision.”
Some of the USPS sustainability goals include:
* reduce total facility use by 30% by 2015
* reduce waste sent to landfill by 50% by 2015
* reduce water use by 10% by 2015
* reduce scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 20% by 2020
* require all suppliers with current contract commitments of more than $500,00 to provide sustainability data to USPS by 2015
* include standard USPS sustainability clauses in all new contract actions by 2015
But USPS is not waiting until 2015 for results. As outlined by Deputy Postmaster General Ronald Stroman, since 2007, USPS has saved more than $400,000 million in energy costs and reduced energy use by 30%. While some of these savings can be attributed to the decline in the use of mail services nationwide—thanks in part to the Internet—Stroman points out that while demand may be declining, costs of operation continue to rise (including fuel prices).
Stroman explains in the report how this was accomplished, stating “We improved mail sorting and processing efﬁciencies, improved delivery routes to conserve fuel, and increased fuel use in our alternative fuel-capable delivery ﬂeet, the largest in the country.”
Other USPS Energy Efficiency Accomplishments include:
* 8% greenhouse gas emissions reduction since 2008 (the equivalent of taking nearly 204,000 US passenger vehicles off the road for an entire year)
* generating $13 million in revenue and avoiding $9 million in landﬁll fees by recycling 222,000 tons of material postal-wide
* the creation of more than 400 “Lean Green” teams across the country
* Since 2003, USPS has reduced total facility energy use 9.9 trillion Btu, a 29.4% reduction.
* reduction in energy use per square foot of building space by 28.3% since 2003
“Our vision is to be a sustainability leader,” declares Stroman, “by creating a culture of conservation throughout the Postal Service and leading the adoption of sustainable business practices by engaging our employees, customers, suppliers, the mailing industry, and our federal peers.