NIH Sustainability Mission Picture of hands holding a seedling.

The NIH’s mission is to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce the burdens of illness and disability.  However, recently there has been an increased understanding that economics, environmental health and human well-being are all interconnected and interdependent.  Protecting the environment has become NIH’s priority as well.

As a result the NIH has begun to implement programs and policies to promote and enhance the ​Institute’s environmental stewardship through pollution prevention programs, resource conservation policies, and sustainable development of facilities.​  

Sustainability in the Federal Government

The federal government has become increasingly concerned with the environmental impacts of its facilities and ongoing operations, particularly their impacts on the Nation’s energy and water resources and Greenhouse Gas emissions.  To attempt to mitigate the impacts of its facilities and operations, the Federal Government has put forth a series of Federal Sustainability Mandates and Laws over the past 5 years in particular to deal with these issues.
The main purpose of these regulations and mandates is to require integration of sustainability considerations into site planning, design, construction, and maintenance of federal facilities.

Federal Sustainability Timeline


Federal Sustainability Mandates, Laws and Orders

To meet these requirements, and using guidance provided by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive (OFEE), and the Federal government’s Interagency Sustainability Working Group (ISWG), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) developed a HHS Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan, which the NIH has committed to meeting.

The sustainability goals laid out in the HHS Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan are briefly summarized below as they relate to the NIH, with the focus of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and develop new technologies that can both improve health and meet other sustainability goals such as reduction in energy and water use.​