The federal government is one of the largest energy consumers in the world, but even Washington’s consumption is decreasing.
The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Federal Energy Management Program records total delivered-to-site energy use. Data for fiscal year 2013 (FY ’13) shows that energy use fell to 0.96 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) from almost 1.6 quadrillion Btu in 1975, the earliest year for which data is available.
In FY ’13, energy usage by vehicles and equipment accounted for 62 percent of all federal energy consumed, with the remaining 38 percent consumed by federal buildings. The two departments with the highest vehicle and equipment consumption combined were the Department of Defense and the Postal Service, accounting for 94 percent. That energy usage had declined 19 percent since FY 2011, attributable to lower consumption of jet fuel, a major fuel source for the Air Force. Jet fuel is the largest energy source the federal government consumes.
Also declining is the energy consumed in federal buildings, which has dropped over the past four decades. Two contributing factors are a decline in the total square footage of government facilities, which has dropped since a peak in FY 1987, and a decline in the amount of energy consumed per square foot, which has dropped since FY 1975.
Several sustainability initiatives also played a role in the declining energy consumption. Requirements set forth in the Energy Independence Act of 2007 called for a reduction in petroleum fuel consumption by at least 20 percent by the beginning of FY 2016, and a reduction in energy intensity in buildings by 30 percent by FY 2015. Another initiative called for a reduction in fossil fuels consumption in new or renovated buildings by 65 percent in FY 2015 with an ultimate goal of a 100 percent reduction by FY 2030.