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Strengthening Homeland Security through Sustainable Energy

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  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security

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Rachel Romero, 303.275.3908

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Black Hawk helicopter flying above University of Phoenix Stadium, site of Super Bowl XLIX.

Energy efficiency and clean energy technologies contribute to strengthening our homeland security. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recognizes that energy plays an important role in carrying out its mission to protect our homeland and prioritizes adoption of energy efficiency and clean energy technologies within the Department.

In 2005, DHS commissioned NREL to assist in creating a 10-year plan that incorporates renewable energy (RE) and its natural ally, energy efficiency (EE), into headquarters (HQ) and component operations. To do this, NREL performed an RE resource assessment for nearly all DHS sites. In subsequent years, NREL also completed site assessments to identify specific RE and EE opportunities to implement this plan at DHS buildings and campuses, including facilities for the U.S. Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Soon after the 10-year plan was complete, E.O. 13514, "Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance," was signed by President Obama and the Energy Management Program was established at DHS. Under that purview, the Mission Sustainable Energy program was formed.

For the past eight years, NREL subject matter experts have been helping DHS meet their energy goals through the Mission Sustainable Energy program by providing energy efficiency project management, technical assistance, and education to DHS and its components, directorates, and offices. These activities are helping DHS set achievable energy goals, identify which sites will benefit the most from RE applications, spread internal awareness about EE and RE, implement EE and RE systems, and find ways to fulfill homeland security goals while reducing Department dependence on non-renewable energy sources.

And the collaborative efforts of DHS and NREL are paying off. In 2014, DHS met or exceeded their energy goals in the areas of energy and water intensity, greenhouse gas emissions, and use of renewable energy and have been making significant progress towards meeting fleet petroleum use reduction and building efficiency goals.

So, how do these efforts contribute to strengthening homeland security? First, by saving money that would have been spent on fuel and inefficiencies and investing that money to improve operational effectiveness to better protect our homeland. Second, by reducing overall energy use thereby helping to secure America's energy independence.

Collectively, the federal government is the single largest energy user in the United States economy. Since 2008, federal facilities have reduced GHG emissions by 17.5% at a total cost savings of approximately $1 billion. Newer aggressive targets recently established by President Obama sets GHG reduction goals to 40% over the next decade from the 2008 level, resulting in an estimated $40 billion in net voided energy costs.1

Additional Information

NREL supports various federal agencies by providing technical and project assistance, training, and resources to help meet and exceed energy and environmental goals. Learn more.

1 Opening Remarks, Christy Goldfuss, Managing Director, White House Council on Environmental Quality, GreenGov Symposium, 2015.