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The U.S. Postal Service has prided itself in being a leader in promoting sustainability for the environment. They look at it as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the future. It is working to create a culture of conservation among its more than 546,000 employees in its 32,000 facilities.” In fact, the USPS received the EPA’s WasteWise Federal Government Partner of the Year award in 2010 and 2011 for protecting the environment.
To ensure that this mission is carried out, they make sure that mail is delivered by its letter carriers in the most efficient way possible without compromising the environment. For instance, more than 8,000 letter carriers deliver mail on foot. Around 75,000 drive to a neighborhood and then go to each mail recipient to hand in the mail on foot. Some postal facilities have also made use of electric delivery vehicles. One of these, the T-3 has a range of 40 miles and can go at a maximum speed of 12 mph. It can carry 450 pounds of mail and only costs 2 cents a mile. Since 2001, two-ton electric vehicles have been delivering mail in New York City. The USPS also has more than 44,000 alternative fuel-capable vehicles, making its fleet the world’s largest in this sector. They are currently testing 10 Navistar eStar electric step vans in California, New York, and Virginia.
In addition, the Postal Service also ensures that they use recyclable materials by partnering with suppliers that also believe in this conservation philosophy. Thus, the design and manufacturing of its stamps, postcards, Priority Mail and Express Mail boxes and envelopes make the most use of recyclable materials. Because of their efforts, the USPS has recycled more than 200,000 tons of wastepaper, cardboard, cans, plastics, and other materials. This campaign has also generated $24 million in combined revenue and more importantly, has avoided costly landfill fees.
Aside from recycling, the USPS also sees to it that its new and existing facilities are made more sustainable. They incorporate high-efficiency lighting and HVAC, low-water use fixtures, solar energy systems, native plant species in landscaping, natural day lighting, and low-volatile organic compound materials. By 2015, the US Postal Service aims to reduce facility energy consumption by 30 percent through these building upgrades.
Some of their facilities are already receiving acclaim for these efforts. For instance, the Postal Service National Center for Employee Development in Norman, Oklahoma was dubbed as the greenest hotel in the state by the Oklahoma travel and tourism board. In New York, the Postal Service has the largest green roof in the state which totals 109,000 square feet.
From recycling to the use of solar photovoltaic systems to detailed energy audit all these are part of the steps that the USPS is taking to ensure that their organization, its workers, and the United States as a whole remains sustainable in the decades to come.