President Obama directed federal agencies and the military to nearly triple renewable energy consumption by the end of the decade, setting a target of getting 20 percent of electricity from renewable sources.
The move, which comes through executive order, is the latest in a series of administrative efforts the White House has employed to address climate change through curbing greenhouse gas emissions. And focusing on the federal government -- the nation's largest energy user -- could have a significant impact.
"Meeting this renewable energy goal will reduce pollution in our communities, promote American energy independence, and support homegrown energy produced by American workers," the White House said.
Obama pledged in June to lean on regulations and executive authority to address climate change, as Republicans in the House and the Senate -- with some centrist Democrats -- have been resistant to legislation that would cut carbon pollution.
The centerpiece of the president's agenda is proposed emissions rules for new and existing power plants. But the overall plan includes expanding renewable energy production on public lands and strengthening energy-efficiency regulations.
The order announced Thursday instructs the federal government, which currently gets 7.5 percent of its power from renewable sources, to identify formerly contaminated lands, landfills and mine sites as potential locations for renewable energy projects.
It builds on a White House action earlier this week that extended a deadline for a measure aimed at helping federal agencies cut emissions through improvements in energy efficiency.
The tool, energy savings performance contracts, was scheduled to expire at the end of the year. The White House extended it Tuesday for another two years, as the policy has broad bipartisan support on the Hill as a no-cost measure for bolstering efficiency.
The plan works by allowing federal agencies to contract with private companies to make efficiency improvements. Those firms get reimbursed through energy cost reductions accrued through the lifetime of the contract.
But federal agencies have been slow to use them. They're falling short of the $2 billion savings goal the administration set in December 2011, despite agencies identifying $2.3 billion worth of projects.