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Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Continues Move Toward Sustainability

06/02/2022

Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) Acting Secretary George Little is proud to announce that the DOC is leading the way as commonwealth agencies work to become more environmentally responsible though Governor Tom Wolf's GreenGov initiative. 

Established in 2019, the Pennsylvania GreenGov Council created a set of goals and benchmarks for agencies and commissions under the governor's jurisdiction to fight climate change. Key elements include creating a more energy efficient vehicle fleet, obtaining more electricity from in-state, clean energy sources, and ensuring commonwealth buildings are energy efficient. Progress of each agency toward meeting these goals is analyzed through a standardized reporting process. 

The GreenGov Council's 2021 annual report released last month recognized the DOC as scoring the highest among all agencies on the Agency Certification Checklist. The Checklist is an innovative energy and sustainability evaluation tool for agencies to compare and evaluate their progress on an annual basis. The DOC earned a total of 145 points out of 153 points available, or 95 percent. 

"Participation in the GreenGov Council has allowed our agency to make changes – both large and small – that will have an immediate and long-lasting impact in the fight against climate change," said Acting Secretary Little. "I credit the staff at all levels of the DOC for taking this initiative seriously and doing their part to create a more environmentally conscious department." 

"Though our partnerships with Department of Corrections, and other state agencies under the Governor's jurisdiction, the GreenGov Council has been able assist the commonwealth in making significant progress in the area of energy sustainability over the past several years," said GreenGov Executive Director Mark Hand. "Corrections has really become an active participant in efforts to deliver savings for PA taxpayers, while taking meaningful actions to become more energy efficient and reduce emissions."

Key progress made by the DOC toward the goals of the GreenGov Council include:

  • Monitoring and tracking electricity and natural gas use at each of the department's state correctional institutions and community corrections centers. Data collected is used to identify anomalies and waste, as well as make informed decisions on upgrades and renovations.
  • Beginning the installation of electric vehicle charging stations at select facilities to accommodate electric-powered fleet vehicles. The DOC applied for and received rebates to offset the cost of installation.
  • Partnering with the Pennsylvania Department of General Services (DGS) in exploring opportunities to install solar panel arrays at state correctional institutions to supplement current DOC progress on the use of renewable energy sources.
  • Installing energy efficient lighting, HVAC systems, and windows when existing equipment reaches the end of its lifecycle.
  • Participating in the U.S. Department of Energy's Better Buildings Sustainable Corrections Infrastructure Partnership.
  • Being an active participant in the Commonwealth's Guaranteed Energy Savings Act, or GESA, program that allows energy sustaining improvement to be made to commonwealth facilities with no up-front costs. The PA DOC has five projects, at various stages, that once complete will deliver more than $7 million in energy savings annually.

"The first step in getting to where you want to be is identifying where you are, which is why setting a baseline in these initial years of the GreenGov Council is so important," said Acting Secretary Little. "We look forward to ongoing collaboration and improvement in all areas of environmental responsibility." 

To combat the dangers of climate change across Pennsylvania, Gov ernor Wolf has also unveiled a Climate Action Plan, announced the largest government solar energy commitment in the U.S., and taken action to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

To learn more about the council, visit the PA GreenGov Council website. For more information on the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, visit cor.pa.gov.

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