GSA in New Bulletin to Government Agencies: Travel Green

10/11/2010

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), on September 30, 2010, issued GSA Bulletin FTR 10-06. The purpose of the bulletin is to provide guidance to employees of agencies subject to the Federal Travel Regulation to enhance travel cost savings and reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). The bulletin includes suggestions regarding green lodging and green meetings. The guidance will improve management of agency travel programs, save money on travel costs, better protect the environment, and conserve natural resources. According to the bulletin, when managing travel programs, sustainability and protecting the interests of taxpayers must be among the prime considerations during travel planning and execution. The bulletin will remain in effect until cancelled or superseded.

On October 5, 2009, President Obama signed Executive Order 13514, Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance (EO 13514). EO 13514 directs federal agencies to target their mission activities toward improving energy efficiency and reducing direct and indirect GHG emissions. When establishing a GHG emission reduction target, Section 2(b)(ii) of EO 13514 requires the heads of agencies to consider reductions associated with “implementing strategies and accommodations for transit, travel, training, and conferencing that actively support lower-carbon commuting and travel by agency staff.”

How can agencies reduce the environmental impact of their travel? GSA Bulletin FTR 10-06 recommends that agencies reduce or eliminate official travel. When employees do have to travel, they should do the following when it comes to lodging:

• Many hotels participate in green lodging certification programs that incorporate energy efficiency, water conservation, waste reduction, and other environmentally-friendly strategies into their facilities and operations. In particular, travelers should look for properties that are LEED certified, have earned EPA’s Energy Star rating or participate in EPA’s Waste Wise and WaterSense programs, and that have made a stated commitment to practicing environmentally preferable purchasing in the products and services used by the property.

• Travelers should consider hotels that are close to their event site, especially hotels that are within walking distance. Many hotels, particularly in urban areas, are within walking distance to mass transit options that will reach the site at which business is to be conducted. In addition, many offer shuttle services to mass transit facilities or event sites.

• Participate in hotel linen and recycling programs. Many hotels give travelers the ability to reuse linen to conserve water, reduce the use of cleaning chemicals, and reduce the discharge of “gray” water into sewage systems, as well as provide recycling containers to reduce the number of bottles, cans, etc., in the waste stream.

• Turn off AC/heat, lights, TV, and radio when not in room. Travelers often use this strategy at home and should consider taking the same approach at the temporary duty location.

• Use electronic checkout programs. Most hotels allow travelers to view and approve their bill electronically rather than relying on paper documents.

Green Meeting Strategies

When planning meetings that require participation from employees or other individuals, agencies should ensure that the following strategies, aimed at minimizing or eliminating the need for others to travel to meetings, are considered in the planning process. The following strategies will also mitigate the impact of any travel that is necessary, ensuring that resources invested in travel are well spent:

• Use Remote Conferencing Tools. Agencies should ensure that teleconferencing, videoconferencing, and audio conferencing options are in place, and encourage participants to take advantage of them in lieu of attending conferences and meetings in person.

• Site Selection. Agencies should select meeting sites that are close and accessible to public transportation.

• Hold meetings with green lodging and conference/meeting facilities. Agencies should hold conferences and meetings in facilities that incorporate green principles.

• Overlapping events. Agencies should consider whether scheduling meetings concurrently with overlapping attendance will capture attendees who are already on temporary duty, thereby eliminating the need for multiple trips.

Government employees are also being encouraged to reduce the amount of luggage taken on official travel, consider train or bus in addition to air travel, use alternative fueled caps when possible, share cabs and shuttles, walk or bicycle when possible, and choose alternative fueled or hybrid rental vehicles.

Click here to read the entire bulletin.

Glenn Hasek can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.


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