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A Core Function
For the better part of the past decade, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 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 achieve the environmental, economic and energy goals called for in Executive Order 13693. And the Corps’ progress in achieving those goals is transparent as its actions are being tracked by a scorecard published by the Office of Management and Budget along with the scorecards of other federal agencies.

Leading the USACE sustainability efforts is Mr. Ryan A. Fisher, Acting 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 are 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 longterm environmental, social, and economic considerations.

Focus areas for Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017 are as follows:

  • Implement 80 percent of audit-identified, low and moderate cost energy and water conservation measures
  • Implement not less than $34.8 million in energy performance contracts
  • Reduce incidence of potable water line breaks by replacing deteriorated water lines
  • Consume 5 percent alternative fuels relative to total fuel consumption in the non-tactical vehicle fleet
  • Achieve compliance with sustainable acquisition requirements and increase biobased purchasing
  • Issue USACE Materials Management Policy for solid waste quantification and diversion

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 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 27 November 2017]