Since its inception in 1871, the United States Postal Service has been delivering mail with the motto “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” But in recent years, the USPS has found one element difficult to compete with: private shipping companies. To offset the impact of organizations like UPS and FedEx, the Postal Service has sought ways to cut costs and increase the price of shipping supplies, most notably stamps.
But the USPS may have finally found a way to address some of the challenges the agency is faced with. Rather than braving the elements, the USPS is now choosing to embrace them, in the form of green energy solutions. ConEdison Solutions has worked with the USPS for more than a decade to make its post offices and mail sorting facilities nationwide more energy efficient. Now, the USPS is taking additional steps to improve the way it uses energy.
Earlier this year, the Postal Service’s Los Angeles Processing and Distribution Center started construction of a landmark solar power distribution system comprised of 31,000 solar panels to be installed on the facility’s rooftop and parking structure. The system is poised to meet the facility’s energy needs during working hours, drastically reducing utility costs. In addition, the Postal Service will be selling off its surplus electricity production to the electric grid to generate additional revenue.
While this type of installation is making headlines today, the Postal Service’s 2016 Strategic Sustainability Report indicates that such systems will be a priority next year and into the future as well.
But this is only one example of the green energy initiatives at the USPS today.
With over 214,000 vehicles in service, the USPS maintains one of the largest fleets in the world. With so many vehicles in operation, there is a sizeable amount of energy consumed to get mail delivered across the country. The Postal Service has taken a number of steps to optimize the energy usage of its fleet, which has led to a drastic reduction in its carbon footprint and had a positive financial impact. Last year, the Postal Service increased its alternative fuel consumption to the equivalent of 814,146 gallons of gasoline. This was done using a variety of sources–biodiesel, compressed natural gas, flex fuel, electricity and propane.
The Postal Service also intends to address the energy consumption of its employees in 2017, taking its green energy vision beyond the scope of its buildings and vehicles. A survey will be conducted next year of 40,000 management-level employees to get a better understanding of their commuting habits. This survey comes as USPS considers ways to increase remote working and its overall commuter emissions reduction strategy. This strategy may lead to a restructuring of the agency and may help curb in-house energy consumption by more efficiently distributing its labor force.
The dedication shown by the USPS to green energy initiatives is poised to bring the agency more of a competitive edge through considerable cost savings, the addition of new revenue streams and a restructuring of the organization that can reduce employee energy consumption across the country.