Sustainability at NIH


Figure 1. Hands holding a green plant.

Executive Order 13693 commits all federal government agencies, to take a leadership role in promoting sustainability and responding to the challenges and effects of climate change. A fact sheet issued by the White House highlights how climate change threatens human health and well-being and outlines actions that will allow us to better understand, communicate, and reduce the health impacts of climate change on our communities. These actions are linked to sustainability goals, many of which align with NIH environmental stewardship programs. Achievements and progress towards sustainability goals are detailed in the NIH Sustainability Implementation Plan.

The NIH Environmental Management System (NEMS) is our vehicle for managing and achieving our sustainability goals, listed below:

To reduce the primary driver of climate change, NIH is making progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We are conserving water, reducing waste, and improving our procurement practices. We are committed to taking a leadership role in researching and communicating the relationship between the health of our citizens and the health of our environment. Through our accomplishments and future commitments, NIH sets the standard for responsible stewardship and sustainable operations and support a healthier future for the American people. The NIH sustainability program efforts are also summarized, along with those of other HHS Operating Divisions, in an annual HHS Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan.


Historical Context of Sustainability in the Federal Government



Figure 2. Timeline of Major Federal Sustainability Mandates, Laws, and Orders.

The federal government is 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 since 2005 to address these issues.

The main purpose of these regulations and mandates is to require integration of sustainability considerations into site planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of federal facilities.

Reference Documents

2017 NIH Sustainability Implementation Plan

Sustainability Goals PoC List


Federal Sustainability Mandates, Laws, and Orders
For specific information on Sustainability Goals, please click here to view the Sustainability PoC list.