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Federal Travelers Think Green with GSA Web Tool

Image: Yurok Aleksandrovich, Andrey Kiselev

Workers in federal agencies who travel frequently are increasingly checking the web before hitting the road. But it’s not to confirm flights or check traffic.

According to a report in Federal Times, agencies are using a new web-based tool from the General Services Administration that allows travel managers to pick the best geographical location for a meeting based on projected carbon emissions or cost. The tool also allows users to measure.

The cost breakdown comes after the tool analyzes things, such as number of travelers, airport locations, plane mileage and type of plane, along with others factors.

Federal Times reports that 89 agencies use the online password-protected portal, which can be accessed from any network, and since it the tool went live in March, 4,844 reports generated by the portal.

Tim Burke, director of GSA’s Office of Travel and Transportation, told Federal Times the tool allowed travel manages to “be more conscientious [about] costs and sustainability objectives.”

But it’s not only altruism driving the increasing federal demand for the tool.

President Barack Obama’s Executive Order 13514, which he signed in October 2009, requires agencies to measure, report and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and they must submit comprehensive inventories of emissions by Jan. 31.

But the attempt to reduce emissions doesn’t end when federal travelers step off the plane or park the car. GSA is also encouraging federal travelers to use green hotels as well, a step many might not consider.

“Cost effectiveness and green go together,” said Patricia Griffin, president of the Green Hotels Association, told Federal Times.

GSA has a history of making its “g” stand for green. Late last month, the agency raised the bar on federal construction, requiring green buildings to meet a higher green rating.

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