Deputy Secretary David Hayes on Sustainability

April 10, 2012

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Hello. I appreciate the chance to talk with all of you today about sustainability and the Department of the Interior. You know in some respects, our entire Department’s mission is all about sustainability. When you look at the big picture, that’s what we’re about. We’re trying to keep our nation's treasures, our cultural resources, sustainable. Our special places, our tribal traditions, and our energy sources as well. In fact when you look at the big picture, Ken Salazar in particular, under President Obama’s leadership, has been moving our Department toward renewable energy in a big way. Why? Because it’s sustainable.

Well, today I want to talk a little bit about how you and I and others in the Department can work together in our daily lives here at the Department to advance our Department’s sustainability goals.  Taking that big picture of conservation and sustainability that we worry about across our 70,000 employees and bringing it down to our daily lives.

You know, last May, a year ago May, the Secretary signed an executive order talking about environmental and sustainable policy for the Department. He keyed off of the President’s Executive Order which established sustainability goals across our government. And he set up a Sustainability Council, here at the Department of the Interior, to guide our efforts, led by Rhea Suh, our Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management, and Budget, and our Senior Sustainability Officer. That council has been busy at work. It has established a number of goals and focused on a number of activities that all of us encounter every day in the Department. Whether they be greenhouse gas emissions, that are associated for example with our energy use for the buildings we work in every day, Fleet Management  for our cars and trucks, sustainable buildings, and our work to make our buildings tighter and more  energy efficient, and then more generally across the board, our energy and water consumption.  

Our Sustainability Council is developing goals in each of these areas, and we have some new tools to help all of us track how we’re doing, and I want to encourage everyone to take advantage of those tools.  One of the tools is the Environmental Management System approach, or EMS approach, that our Department is taking and launching here to help monitor our progress. Because in order to know whether we are really on a sustainable path, we can’t just take a snapshot look at what our energy use is today or what it was yesterday. But, instead, we have to see, do we have systems in place to monitor what we’re doing, and to help track our progress? Likewise we have another important tool, our SharePoint site for sustainability, where we provide information about the activities of the Sustainability Council, and a variety of other resources to help all of us in our daily lives, here at the Department of the Interior, live and work sustainably.

There are lots of success stories around the country when it comes to putting these common sense approaches to sustainability into action in our daily lives. I know many of you have been to our National Parks recently and you’ve seen some of the special buildings that have been built sustainably, providing terrific examples to our visiting public of how buildings can be energy efficient at the same time that they are a joy to be in.

There are other examples—the National Wildlife Refuge System has many of them. The Eastern Virginia Rivers Refuge, for example, had a very innovative program where they took care of and recycled an  enormous amount of scrap metal, and in doing so, not only led to the recycling of this metal, but also the restoration of the lands on which the material had been stored. I suggest that you look at our website, for other examples, and that you contribute your examples to our sustainability effort. The website is, appropriately so. And I encourage all of you, as you get up every morning and come to work, think of what you can do, and what your team can do, to help this Department show the way to sustainability, so that we in our daily lives, care for the planet that our Department as a whole worries so much about, and is our mission to protect.

Thank you very much.