CEQ releases guidance on measuring agencies' greenhouse gas emissions

White House officials announced the completion of guidelines today outlining how federal agencies should measure and report greenhouse gas emissions as part of a broad initiative to decrease the government's carbon footprint.

The "Guidance on Federal Greenhouse Gas Accounting and Reporting" includes formulas and methods for measuring emissions from a wide range of agency activities -- from fuel use to employee travel. Though agencies released their sustainability plans last month, they are required to submit their emission inventories in January using the official guidance.

"For the first time, this guidance sets consistent standards and requirements for measuring and reporting the Federal Government's greenhouse gas emissions," Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said in a statement.

"Today we take an important step forward in transparency and accountability for the Federal Government's greenhouse gas pollution. We continue President Obama's commitment to lead by example toward a healthy and prosperous clean energy future for America."

The Council on Environmental Quality released a draft version of the guidelines in July. A cursory comparison between the draft and final versions shows the addition of several sections that further define federal reporting requirements and new methodology for measuring renewable energy.


President Obama directed CEQ to establish the guidelines in an October executive order on the government's responsibility to set an example and decrease greenhouse gas emissions. Agencies will use the guidelines to gauge their progress in meeting a governmentwide goal of decreasing direct emissions by 28 percent and indirect emissions by 13 percent over the next 10 years.

Measuring indirect emissions may prove tricky, as they include emissions that are not within the agency's direct control. But CEQ provides guidelines for measuring some of the most common ways agencies plan to cut down on so-called "scope 3" emissions, including employee commuting and emissions from contracted waste disposal.

Click here for the final version of the guidance.

Click here for the draft version of the guidance.

Reporter Katherine Ling contributed.

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