Black History: Craig Hooks
As an African American scientist managing the administrative arm of the agency, I am keenly aware of my unusual background, professional journey and the successes of African Americans who have contributed to environmental protection and energy efficiencies and EPA’s progress in sustainability. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Zoology from the University of Florida and a Masters degree in Oceanography from the Texas A&M University. I worked at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as a physical scientist prior to joining EPA in the mid 1980s.
At EPA, I worked in a variety of organizations including the enforcement and the water offices. In 2009, then-Administrator Lisa P. Jackson asked me to serve as the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Administration and Resources Management. I was honored and excited about this opportunity. OARM provides national leadership, policy, and management of many essential support functions for the agency, including human resources management, acquisition activities, grants management, and management and protection of EPA’s facilities and other critical assets nationwide. I also serve as the agency’s Senior Sustainability Officer, providing leadership in implementing Executive Order 13514 which is aimed at improving Federal environmental, energy and economic performance.
It is EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment. Environmental protection contributes to making our communities and ecosystems diverse, sustainable and economically productive. African Americans with noteworthy accomplishments in environmental protection helped pave the way for EPA’s progress. For example, George Carruthers invented the far ultraviolet camera/spectrograph in 1969. It was plated in gold and carried aboard the Apollo 16 mission, where it was placed on the moon’s surface. The camera used ultraviolet light, invisible to the naked eye, to capture high-quality images of Earth. Carruthers’ invention helped scientists see how air pollution forms, allowing them to develop new ways to control air pollution. Clarence L. Elder, head of his own research and development firm in Baltimore, was awarded a patent in 1976 for a monitoring and control energy conservation system. His “Occustat” is designed to reduce energy waste in temporarily vacant homes and other buildings, and especially useful for hotels and school rooms.
I am especially proud to share the many successes EPA has achieved in the sustainability area. EPA scored green in every category for the 2011 and 2012 OMB Sustainability/Energy scorecards, demonstrating the success of the agency’s long-term, comprehensive approach to sustainability. EPA is a leading agency in sustainability in the federal government and only one of two (GSA being the other) agency to achieve green in all categories for two years in a row. Additionally, EPA is again leading the government by being green in 2013.
Through increased video conferencing, EPA was able to reduce green house gas emissions associated with air travel by 46 percent in FY 2012 compared to FY 2008. And employees increased their average telework hours per pay period by 35.3 percent compared to the previous year and by 136.4 percent compared to FY 2009. Due to several major energy projects and mechanical system upgrades, EPA reduced its FY 2012 energy intensity by 23.7 percent compared to its FY 2003 baseline. In FY 2012, EPA achieved a non-hazardous solid waste diversion rate of 63 percent, far exceeding the EO 13514 target of a 50 percent diversion rate by FY 2015.
And EPA continues lead federal agencies by purchasing green power and renewable energy certificates equal to 100 percent of its annual electricity use.
Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.