Chapter 4 Our Operations
Sustainability is about meeting the needs of the present without compromising the future. It has become a business imperative as customers increasingly choose to do business with companies that operate in an environmentally responsible manner. With almost 800,000 employees, 37,000 facilities, and 219,000 vehicles, the Postal Service has an impact in every American community. Its goal is to make sure that impact is a positive one in all cases.
The Postal Service has a strong environmental track record. Since 1995 it has been honored with 37 White House Closing the Circle Awards. The Postal Service also won the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2007 WasteWise Partner of the Year Award, the program’s highest honor, for the eighth year in a row. The Postal Service’s sustainability effort is focused on two main areas: 1) accelerating conservation, especially in energy and fuel use, and 2) expanding environmentally-friendly business practices, both internally and through partnerships.
Because of its size, the Postal Service has the opportunity and responsibility to lead the way in energy management. Energy use amounted to $2.35 billion in 2007. Transportation consumes 75 percent with the balance spent on utilities. Energy initiatives focused on developing a common energy strategy for the organization and improving data quality. Transparency in overall cost and consumption will lead to significant improvements in facility energy management. Wise investments in energy efficient equipment today will repay their debt continuously over time.
Energy costs at postal facilities for utilities was $610 million, a 0.01 percent increase over 2006. The Postal Service is investing $150 million annually in conservation measures. It is implementing a number of strategies to reduce energy consumption by 20 percent by the end of 2012. These strategies include detailed energy audits and capital improvements, as well as changes to policies and procedures.
The new Utility Management System (UMS) captures cost and usage data for electricity, natural gas, and fuel oil bill management. It will provide detailed utility consumption and cost profiles, bill payment, auditing, rate optimization, and reporting. Besides helping target conservation actions, UMS will guide the prioritization of energy infrastructure investments and reduce the cost of utility contracts. The system is currently being piloted in 600 facilities.
A variety of sustainable building design concepts have been integrated within the Postal Service’s national standard design criteria. These criteria are used for all new construction as well as repair and alteration projects. The result is facilities that use less energy and have less impact on the environment. Some examples of sustainable building concepts include use of high-efficiency lighting and HVAC, low-volatile organic compound (VOC) paints, recycled-content materials, and low water use fixtures. The EPA has honored the Postal Service with its Environmental Achievement Award for its use of “green solutions” in the Pacific Area, including its use of solar photovoltaic systems, fuel cells, and combined heat and power generation.