Skip to site content

Sustainability Program Overview

Sustainability is at the heart of the IHS Mission - to raise the physical, mental, social, and spiritual health status of the American Indian and Alaska Native people to the highest possible level. It is reflected in the IHS Environmental Policy Statement, Organizational EMS, the Sustainability Advisory Board (SAB), the Environmental Steering Committee (ESC), LEED Construction at new IHS facilities, and IHS employees.

group of people in a circle with hands in hand

IHS Environmental Policy

IHS Environmental Policy: See Chapter 13 - Environmental Compliance, Stewardship, and Sustainability of the Indian Health Manual.

IHS Environmental Policy Statement

Organizational Environmental Management System (EMS)

Key elements of the IHS Organizational EMS include:

  • Implementing an environmental policy supporting sustainability;
  • Establishing sustainability objectives and targets through the Department of Health and Human Services' Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan (SSPP) and the IHS's Sustainability Implementation Plan (SIP);
  • Implementing and tracking sustainability goals through the Sustainability Advisory Board (SAB);
  • Conducting regular energy and water performance evaluations, greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories, and Guiding Principles conformance assessments;
  • Ensuring that all staff receive appropriate environmental training;
  • Communicating EMS activities through the Sustainability Annual Progress Report and other recognition and communication opportunities.

Sustainability Advisory Board (SAB) - The SAB is the central reviewing body for sustainability issues or questions requiring executive decisions. The SAB is made up of representatives from offices throughout IHS and is chaired by IHS Chief Sustainability Officer James Ludington.

The SAB is chartered to do the following:

  • Coordinate a multiple-office approach to support multifaceted sustainability initiatives;
  • Promote environmental sustainability as a way of doing business and emphasize return-on-investment benefits; and
  • Ensure IHS planning incorporates practices that support sustainability needs.

The background, purpose, and scope of the SAB are found in the Sustainability Advisory Board Charter.

Environmental Steering Committee (ESC) - The ESC utilizes staff from throughout IHS to review sustainability, environmental remediation, and demolition projects for funding. The ESC also makes available additional money and incentives to those projects emphasizing sustainable practices.

Additional Resources

Office of Environmental Health and Engineering (OEHE) Technical Handbook

The OEHE Technical Handbook is a guidance document intended to support implementation of IHS policy, and to set standards and regulations for all aspects of technical services that IHS provides.

The OEHE Technical Handbook includes Chapter 75-9 Prioritization and Funding of Sustainability Activities, which provides opportunity for funding IHS sustainability-related projects.

Office of Environmental Health and Engineering (OEHE) Architectural/Engineering Design Guide (A/E Design Guide) [PDF - 3.3 MB]

Describes requirements for the design and construction of federally-funded IHS facilities.

The A/E Design Guide's sustainability chapter includes guidance for reducing environmental impacts and improving human health in new and existing construction. This chapter proposes "sustainability requirements to ensure that IHS facilities are designed and constructed in a manner that enhances indoor environmental quality for users while reducing the production and consumption of greenhouse gases and ensures diversion of construction debris from landfills." The A/E Design Guide incorporates the Guiding Principles for Federal Leadership in High Performance and Sustainable Buildings and aspects of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification program.