US Army Corps of Engineers
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Headquarters Website

Sustainability Overview

Published June 24, 2019
Updated: Feb. 25, 2019

A Core Function

For the better part of the past decade, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has been seeking balance and synergy between natural systems and human development activities when it comes to its missions, facilities and operations. The Corps also seeks to ensure that its activities do not negatively impact the resource needs of future generations.

This ethic for sustainability has been part of the Corps’ culture since March 2002, when it adopted its Environmental Operating Principles. With these principles as its foundation, the Corps strives to not only meet the energy, water and waste reduction targets for the federal government as described in Executive Order 13514: Federal Leadership in Environment, Energy and Economic Performance, but also to think strategically to anticipate the need for adaptation to climate change challenges Corps missions may face in the not so distant future.

Bringing Actions Together

The Corps’ efforts to date have resulted in a robust set of independent actions, many of them in line with the Army’s “triple-bottom-line-plus” of sustainability – mission, environment, community and economic benefit. The goal now is for the Corps to bring all its independent actions together in a focused, comprehensive way so best practices are shared and replicated. The USACE Sustainability Plan (SP) serves as the roadmap to reduce waste, cut costs, enhance the resilience of USACE infrastructure and operations, and enable more effective accomplishment of our mission, as directed in Executive Order 13834, Efficient Federal Operations. And the Corps’ progress in achieving those goals is transparent as its actions are being tracked by a scorecard/dashboard published by the Office of Management and Budget along with the scorecards of other federal agencies.

Leading the USACE sustainability efforts is Mr. R.D. James, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works). He is serving as the Corps’ Senior Sustainability Officer and is being assisted by two Corps senior leadership governance bodies: the Strategic Sustainability Council, which oversees the Corps sustainability program, and the Energy Governance Council, which oversees all energy activities within the Corps.

Sustainability Plan

The USACE Sustainability Plan is a dynamic document that will change and expand as the Corps does more to make sustainability a reality in all aspects of its missions. Sustainability is not only a natural part of all USACE decision processes, but should be a part of the Corps' organizational culture. The Corps is a steward for some of the Nation’s most important natural resources, and must ensure stakeholders and partners receive products and services that provide for sustainable solutions that address short and long‐term environmental, social, and economic considerations.

Fiscal Year 2018 Sustainability Scorecard

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers received a respectable sustainability performance rating in fiscal year 2018 by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The OMB Scorecard for Efficient Federal Operations/Management rated USACE green scores showing progressive improvement in facility energy efficiency and renewable energy use.  USACE also reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for Scopes 1 and 2 by 18.9% compared to the 2008 baseline, which is an agency best.

  • View USACE's fiscal year 2018 sustainability scorecard here.  

Path Forward

To meet the goals and targets within the Sustainability Plan, the Corps is focusing on two areas:

  • Looking at internal operations to improve efficiencies in facilities it owns and operates; and
  • ​Looking at the services and products it provides to customers across civil, military and research and development business lines to ensure sustainability is being integrated to help them meet their sustainability goals and targets.

[As of 12 July 2019]