Over the next several days, what might be the most important Federal government conference on energy and climate issues this year (with the sad GAO last-minute cancellation of GovEnergy) will occur in Washington, DC. The GreenGov conference, co-sponsored by the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the Association of Climate Change Officers (ACCO), provides ten conference tracks for understanding the challenges and opportunities across the Federal government in developing climate mitigation and adaptation strategies and programs, along with a range of other environmental and clean-energy related discussions.
As the sponsors describe GreenGov:
The 2012 GreenGov Symposium aims to bring together leaders from government, the private sector, non-profits and academia to identify opportunities to create jobs, grow clean energy industries, and curb pollution by incorporating sustainable practices into the Federal Government’s operations.In the hyper-partisan political atmosphere and (too often) dishonest political attacks disjointed from truthful discourse, "green" has become a four-letter word for too many Americans and thus the conference's very name prevents many from any honest engagement with GreenGov's substance. GreenGov provides a rich window on the professionalism, competence, and passion across the Federal government as these civil servants seek to help address climate change (and other environmental) challenges while seizing opportunities to save taxpayers money and create jobs.
President Obama signed Executive Order 13514 in October 2009, directing Federal agencies to meet aggressive energy, water, and waste reduction targets, reduce their greenhouse gas pollution, and leverage Federal purchasing power to curb waste, save taxpayer dollars, and support the growth of a 21st century clean energy economy.
During this educational event, participants will share sustainability challenges and best practices, and discuss cutting-edge approaches to achieving the Federal performance goals set by President Obama. Topics covered will include clean energy, energy and water efficiency, fleet management, getting to zero waste, green buildings, and greening the supply chain.
While it is unlikely that you could chose to join GreenGov if you weren't already planning to show up Monday morning, CEQ/ACCO have added a webstream (webstream schedule) for the plenary sessions and some of the panel discussions.
While appreciative of GreenGov, two issues meriting note:
- This is not an inexpensive meeting to attend. There are likely 1000s of Federal employees who should be attending to enhance their ability to serve the public interest. There are non-profits, academics, students, businesses, and others who -- just like these Federal employees -- would see the conference price-tag as a barrier to attendance. While there are 1000 registered and several hundred expected to show up to pay tomorrow, a more-affordable conference fee would have enabled reaching far more people and potentially having a greater impact. Sadly, this is sponsored by a While House office (the CEQ) that simply doesn't have resources to run a major public conference. While it would be in the citizens' (and taxpayers') interest to have a larger meeting with a lower-bar to participation, today's (myopic political) budget realities don't allow this to occur.
- GreenGov runs 24-26 September. Erev Yom Kippur, when the fast begins for Judaism's most significant holiday, begins the evening of 25 September with those observing the fast required to have fully finished their dinner before sunset the 25th, which typically means ending work-related activities by early afternoon. For a variety of reasons, GreenGov's dates could not be set until spring and, according to Daniel Kreeger, Executive Director, ACCO, this three-day period was the only available opening in an appropriate venue between Labor Day and Thanksgiving. GreenGov's structure was modified to reduce the impact with Yom Kippur -- with the first two days being the conference and the second day ending at 4:15 (in time to allow local Jewish conference attendees the time to be able to get to synagogue -- note that some 80 percent of attendees are local). Even so, the third day (post symposium sessions) is on Yom Kippur.