USPS Well Ahead of Schedule With Sustainability Goals

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The green roof, atop the Morgan mail processing facility, covers 109,000 square feet, or nearly 2.5 acres. Photo: USPS.gov

Last year, the United States Postal Service (USPS) unveiled its first and New York City’s largest green roof on top of the Morgan mail processing facility in midtown Manhattan, constructed in an effort to save energy and reduce pollution runoff.

Touting a lifetime expectancy of 50 years, it features native plants and wooden benches made from Forest Stewardship Council-certified sustainable lumber.

This year, the green roof has proven to reduce the Morgan facility’s annual energy expenses by $1 million, much higher than USPS’s original prediction of $30,000 worth of savings.

But that’s not all the USPS is doing to promote wide-scale sustainability.

The Morgan green roof is part of the Postal Service’s greener facilities strategy, which includes the use of environmentally conscious building components, renewable materials like linoleum and bio-based floor tiles, low-volatile organic compound parts and low water-use fixtures.

The agency aims to reduce energy use 30 percent by 2015. According to Environmental Leader, it is more than two-thirds of the way to reaching this goal, and continues to exceed its energy-saving targets.

The USPS currently has LEED-certified post offices in Denver, Colo. and Southampton, N.Y., as well as mail processing centers in Greenville, S.C. and Troy, Mich. Other green building initiatives include implementing energy-efficient lighting and HVAC as well as solar photovoltaic systems and fuel cells.

In addition, while reducing the overall size of its fleet, the Postal Service is expanding its hybrid EV fleet in accordance with its goal of reducing petroleum fuel usage 20 percent by 2015 and GHG emissions 20 percent by 2020.

“It’s our goal to make sure every letter and package mailed is a greener experience for the people who use our services,” said Vice President of Sustainability Sam Pulcrano.

The USPS 2009 sustainability report notes that the agency reduced its total facility and vehicle energy use 9 percent, as it increased its alternative fuel use 26 percent. In 2009 alone, the Postal Service’s energy efficiency efforts saved $3 million and nearly 100 million kilowatts of electricity.

Other highlights include a reduction in total energy costs by $400 million since 2007, an additional $314 million in savings due to reduced transportation fuel use and ten million saved sheets of paper through Human Resources online initiatives.

Pulcrano attributes these sustainability successes to the Postal Service’s inclusive “culture of conservation.”

In terms of recycling, The USPS has launched a pilot program through the Clover Technologies Group that lets customers recycle small electronics and inkjet cartridges by mailing them free of charge.

USPS recycles nearly 1 million tons of wastepaper, cardboard, plastics, cans and other materials each year. It is the only shipping company in the country to earn Cradle to Cradle certification for its ecoEnvelopes’ line of reusable envelopes, which are manufactured on certified sustainable paper using up to 100 percent recycled content.

“Reduce, reuse, recycle is more than a slogan – it’s a way of doing business throughout the Postal Service,” said Pulcrano. “We are reducing energy and fuel use, our carbon footprint is growing smaller, and our employees and customers are benefiting from our environment-friendly practices.”


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