What Is a "Zero Environmental Footprint"? 

This is an important question for government contractors because the General Services Administration (GSA) recently proposed that the federal government move to a zero environmental footprint.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure anyone has defined this apparently new term.  The GSA’s announcement doesn’t define "zero environmental footprint."  None of the articles highlighting GSA’s proposal defined the term.  The numerous websites that provide greenhouse gas and carbon footprint accounting services do not define zero environmental footprint.  I also couldn’t locate a definition through my Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn friends.  

In the end, I had to rely on a Canadian children’s website for a definition.  

The Canadian website Zerofootprint Kids Calculator defines an environmental footprint based on five categories:

(1) Transporation
(2) What you eat
(3) Home & School
(4) What You Use; and
(5) What You Throw Away

If you change "Home & School" to "Home & Work," you actually have a fairly comprehensive list of categories to calculate an adult’s environmental footprint.*  

However, contractors will need a better definition of "zero environmental footprint."  The federal government might want to consider defining this important phrase.

*I actually took the YourFootprint quiz and was surprised at my carbon results.  Keep in mind, I live in Washington, DC, I do not own a car, and I live with a environmentally-conscious wife.  Here are my stats:

Carbon Footprint:  Me – 10.4; U.S. average – 9.8
Land:  Me – 1.8; U.S. average – 2.2
Trees:  Me – .3; U.S. average – 4.2
Water:  Me – 1743.2; U.S. average – 1877.9

Photo Credit: isolano