Environmental Achievement of the Year: US Postal Service
Sam Pulcrano, vice president of sustainability, USPS
Please click on the play button below to view the acceptance speech.
What does winning the award mean to USPS?
It is an honour for the postal service to receive the Postal Technology International Environmental Achievement of the Year Award. We certainly appreciate when our environmental initiatives are recognised in the industry, especially at an international level.
Why do you think USPS won this award?
We have introduced some significant environmental initiatives in 2009 for which we have received national recognition, including receiving a White House Closing the Circle Award and a Climate Action Champion Award.
Can you tell us about some of the environmental initiatives you have introduced over the past year?
One initiative we have introduced is our Post Office Box Lobby mail recycling programme. We have now expanded that to 16,000 post offices around the country, and this makes it very easy for our customers to make environmentally friendly choices with their mail right in our post office lobbies. Our customers who have post office boxes can come into the post office, take their mail out of the box, go over to the counter and open it, keep the mail they want to retain and then the rest of it can be placed in recycling bins in our lobbies.
Additionally, we have added about 1,900 environmentally friendly vehicles to our fleet this year, which already consists of about 43,000 alternative fuel capable vehicles. We travel about 1.2 billion miles a year with our fleet and we have the largest civilian fleet in the world, consisting of approximately 220,000 vehicles.
We are also testing some three-wheel electric vehicles, which we call the T3s. We are testing them in Florida, California and Arizona. The T3 has a range of 40 miles, a maximum speed of 12mph and a load capacity of 450 pounds. Powered by two rechargeable power modules, the T3 has zero gas emissions and costs four cents a mile to operate.
We also have a joint partnership with General Motors and the US Department of Energy, and we are testing the fourth generation of a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. We have one in Washington DC and one in California.
Very recently we opened our first and New York City’s largest green roof on the top of the Morgan mail processing facility. The roof will last 50 years, twice as long as the roof it replaced, and it will reduce the amount of polluted storm water runoff into the New York municipal water system by as much as 75 percent in summer and 40 percent in winter. The green roof is more energy efficient than a traditional roof, and is projected to save USPS US$30,000 yearly on heating and cooling costs.
Why do you think it is important to introduce these types of initiatives?
We have a long history of environmental leadership, and more importantly, the Postal Service believes in the concept of sustainability. Our mission is to deliver now and for future generations, and we are very committed to leaving a green footprint across the American landscape. This is particularly important when you consider that we are in every community each and every day and we deliver to about 149 million households each day.
Do you have any other initiatives in the pipeline?
We are now in the process of discussing with our letter carriers a joint fuel reduction programme – it is really an awareness programme to assist our drivers with driving habits that will help reduce the amount of fuel that we use.
Looking at the industry in terms of the environment, what technologies will have the biggest affect?
For us, since we have one of the largest fleets in the world, clearly any new technology that can help reduce our dependence on petroleum-based products will be a benefit. One of the areas that we are exploring is electric vehicles. If we can find an electric vehicle that would meet our business needs, it would have substantial impact on our fuel costs and more importantly it would help us reduce our environmental impact on the communities we serve.
What does the future hold for USPS with regards to environmental sustainability?
We are going to continue expanding those programmes that have already proved to be very successful. It is our intention to expand the lobby recycling programme over this coming year.
Is there anything else you would like to mention?
We are very proud of the fact we have reduced our overall building-related energy consumption by 17 percent since 2003. We have a goal of reducing our energy by 30 percent and our petroleum use by 20 percent by 2015. We are very focused in those two areas.
We are well on track with the energy reduction, but the petroleum reduction is a little more difficult. To assist us in achieving that goal, we have a target of taking 10,000 vehicles out of our fleet this year. We are also working on our Mail-Back programmes. We have partnered with companies, agencies and organisations to safely recycle and dispose of electronics and discarded or expired pharmaceuticals. We are looking to further expand those two programmes as well. We also have a green website where our customers can go and calculate their own CO2 impact. This is: www.usps.com/green.