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Sustainable Operations

Frequently Asked Questions



What is sustainable operations?

Sustainable Operations can be defined as operation that meets the needs of the present without compromising the environment for future generations.

More Energy FAQs

What is the purpose of implementing Executive Order 13423; Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management?

Executive Order (E.O.) 13423 requires the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to adhere to the policy set forth in the E.O. “that Federal agencies conduct their environmental, transportation, and energy-related activities under the law in support of their respective missions in an environmentally, economically, and fiscally sounds, intergrated, continuously improving, efficient, and sustainable manner.” The E.O. requires USDA to develop and implement environmental management systems (EMS) and sustainable practices that adhere to the requirements specified in the E.O. The purpose of this memorandum is to emphasize the importance of internal USDA actions to meet these requirements.

Read the MOU [PDF]

How do I find Energy Star Products?

If you are a business, ask your MIS or procurement official about purchasing Energy Star equipment, and look for the Energy Star logo in advertisements and on specification sheets.

If you work in the Federal Government, the General Services Administration has issued guidelines on the acquisition of Energy Star computers. Call (202) 519-4860 for a copy.

If you need a computer for home, look for the Energy Star logo on display models in local retails stores – if you do not see it, ask for it.

Read more information about Energy Star equipment [PDF]

What is Energy Star equipment and what are their advantages?

“Energy Stars” are energy-efficient computers, monitors, and printers that save energy by powering down and going to “sleep” when not being used. These energy-efficient machines save money on electricity bills and reduce pollution, improving your bottom line and the earth’s environment.

Energy Star equipment saves users costs. The equipment produces less heat, and thus contributes to a cooler and more comfortable workspace. Energy Star PC’s can be quieter since some have no fans and can be less intrusive desktop item since they are usually smaller than traditional PCs.

More information about Energy Star equipment »

What is the Digital Television Transition and when will it occur?

As of February 17, 2009, most television stations will broadcast only in digital as required by the Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005. Those who own a television with a digital tuner or subscribe to a TV service (e.g., cable or satellite) will not be affected.

Find more information at the EPA's Digital Televions Transition web site »

How do I know if my TV will work after the Digital Television Transition?

If you use “rabbit ears” or a rooftop antenna with your analog television, you must do one of the following to continue receiving television broadcasts:
*Buy a converter box that will plug into your TV;
*Connect your analog TB to cable, satellite or other pay service; or
*Buy a TV with a digital turner.

Find more information at the EPA's Digital Televions Transition web site »

What is ESPC?

ESPC is a no-upfront-cost contracting method. The contractor incurs the cost of implementing energy conservation measures (ECM) and is paid front eh energy, water, wastewater and operations saving resulting from these ECMs.

For more information visit »



Green Purchasing


Fleet and Transportation

Eco Driving Tips

  1. Accelerate and decelerate smoothly. By accelerating and decelerating smoothly, an automobile is able to make more efficient use of its power. This also means better fuel mileage, which translates into a reduced consumption of fuel.
  2. Avoid excess idling in non-traffic situations. While sitting at a drive-through or other stopped or parked situation is it best to shut off an automobile. This will reduce fuel consumption and wear on the automobile’s engine.
  3. Observe the posted speed limits. Drive either at or under the posted limit. The EPA estimates a 10–15 percent improvement in gas mileage by driving 55 mph instead of 65 mph. In addition to saving gas by observing the posted speed limit there is a reduced risk of getting a speeding ticket, as well as a reduced risk of getting in a fatal accident.
  4. Keep tires properly inflated to the recommended pressure. This alone can reduce the average amount of fuel you use by 3–4 percent.
  5. Maintain a steady speed. The use of cruise control on the highway is ideal (except in hilly terrain), because it decreases gas pedal activity.
  6. Air conditioning should be used selectively to reduce the load on your engine.
  7. Remove excess weight. All unnecessary weight (such as unneeded items in the trunk) makes the engine work harder, consuming more fuel.
  8. Plan and consolidate your trips. This will enable you to bypass congested routes and will lead to less idling, fewer start-ups, and less stop-and-go traffic.
  9. Share a ride and/or carpool. This reduces the total number of vehicles in operation. The fewer vehicles in operation at any given time will result in fewer congested roads, less pollution, less gasoline use, and reduced travel time.
  10. Avoid "topping-off" the gas tank when refueling. Overfilling your gas tank could result in spilled gasoline that contributes to air pollution when it evaporates.
  11. Today's engines don't need to be warmed up in the winter. Prolonged idling creates excess emissions and wastes fuel.

Waste Prevention and Recycling

  1. What is the Call2Recycle program?
    The Call2recycle program is part of the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC).  Through partnerships with retailers, communities, business, and public agencies, provides convenient ways to collect and recycle the used rechargeable batteries found in cordless electronic products, such as cell phones, digital cameras, cordless power tools, laptop computers, cordless phones, etc. 

    To find more information about how the program works visit   

More Waste Prevention & Recycling FAQs

  1. How does the Forest Service participate with Call2Recycle program?
    The Forest Service has signed a national agreement with the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC) to participate in Call2Recycle program. Through the collection of rechargeable batteries from cordless electronic devices and cell phones is helping to reduce hundreds of pounds of waste.  At the same time the funds raised by this recycling campaign are addressed to the Boys & Girls Club of the America. Find more information here [PDF] 
  1. Can my old cell phone be recycled?
    Yes. The materials that comprise old cell phones can also be recycled and reused to make many other products.

    There are two easy ways of recycling old cell phones:
    1. Donate a cell phone
    2. Start  a donation program

    For more information visit the Wireless Recycling link.
  1. What are the benefits of recycling cell phones?
    There are Cell phones recycling and wireless recycling programs that keep valuable materials out of landfills, including an estimated $630,000 of precious metals from circuit boards, and enough copper from phone chargers to recover the Statue of Liberty, twice.
    For more information visit the Wireless Recycling link
  1. What is the Cell Phone Data Eraser?
    The Cell Phone Data Eraser gives you all the tools you need to remove personal information like contact names and phone numbers from used cell phones.
    For more information visit the Wireless Recycling link

Sustainability Leadership


Last Modified: 08/13/2009