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Orlando Goes Green

CEQ Chair Nancy Sutley travels to Orlando to tour sustainability initiatives, including a LEED certified fire station and a water reclamation facility.

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to visit Orlando to see first-hand some of the sustainability initiatives the city has underway through the Green Works Orlando program. Green Works Orlando is a citywide plan to promote environmental conservation and stewardship, energy efficiency in homes and businesses, and outdoor green spaces. Like Orlando, cities across the country are doing exciting and innovative things to make their communities greener and more sustainable.

My first stop was at one of Orlando's six LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified fire stations. With a focus on energy efficiency and sustainability, the fire station has employed innovative techniques to save energy and conserve water. For example, the lighting and hot water are powered through rooftop solar panels, a cistern system collects rain water for use in the station's toilets, and native plant species, which require less water, are planted around the fire station -- including on the green roof.

Nancy Sutley Orlando Fire Station

Nancy Sutley visits Fire Station 1, one of Orlando's six LEED certified fire stations. April 5, 2010.

In the afternoon, I toured the Iron Bridge Regional Water Reclamation Facility, where the city is testing technology for an innovative process to reuse water. It also creates byproducts, such as clean sand and recovered metals, which can then possibly be sold in established markets. Additionally, the process generates a significant amount of heat energy, which can be captured and used to generate electricity.

Good ideas about sustainability are popping up everywhere, and the Federal Government must do its part and lead by example. As the owner or occupier of 500,000 buildings, operating more than 600,000 vehicles, employing more than 1.8 million civilians, and purchasing more than $500 billion per year in goods and services, we have a lot of work ahead!

Under President Obama's Executive Order 13514 on Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance, we will improve energy efficiency, conserve water, reduce waste, use less petroleum in our vehicle fleets, and leverage Federal purchasing power to promote environmentally-responsible products and technologies.

Over the past 15 months, I've had the chance to travel coast to coast seeing first-hand how the United States is building a greener future. Communities across the nation are planting the seeds of a new prosperity -- one that is based on the promise of good, high-paying, American clean energy jobs. Together, with the hard work and innovation that have always defined Americans, we are on our way to a healthier, more prosperous future.

Nancy Sutley is the Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality