Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ecosystem Services in Federal Guidance

On October 5, 2009, President Obama issued Executive Order 13514, which provides a unique opportunity for Federal agencies and facilities to improve sustainability across their operations. Among other things, Executive Order 13514 calls for the implementation of sustainable construction practices in federal buildings, as well as water conservation and pollution prevention in the operation of federal facilities.  Since that time, several federal agencies have developed guidance to assist in achieving sustainability in governmental operations, from greening the federal fleets to encouraging cycling opportunities

In furtherance of Executive Order 13514, on October 31, 2011 the Council on Environmental Quality (“CEQ”) issued Guidance for Federal Agencies on Sustainable Practices for Designed Landscapes (“Guidance”) for the following purposes:

The recommendations in this document describe goals and strategies to achieve sustainable outcomes rather than specifying prescriptive solutions and technology. They are intended to inspire flexibility, innovation, and a culture change. They apply equally to new construction, major renovations, and existing sites and to a lesser extent alterations to existing small scale landscaping efforts. The recommendations accommodate regional differences and can be adapted to support diverse agency missions and policies.

The Guidance addresses the reduction of impacts to soils, water, vegetation, human well-being, and cultural landscapes from facilities construction, operations, and maintenance.  CEQ sought the assistance of the United State Botanic Garden (and others) due to their experience in developing the innovative Sustainable Sites Initiative

The significance of the Guidance might be measured in terms of federal assets, which include more than 41 million acres of land and 3.34 billion square feet of building space in the United States.   Perhaps more notable, however, is the effort to “inspire flexibility, innovation, and a culture change” by integrating ecosystem services values into the proposed decision making framework.   This, I imagine, is intended to heed Gretchen Daily’s observation: “Unless humanity is suicidal, it should want to preserve, at a minimum, the natural life-support systems and processes required to sustain its own existence.”

- Keith Hirokawa

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Very interesting post. I had no idea Obama did this!

Posted by: James | Mar 1, 2012 8:04:52 AM

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