Guest author: Eleni Reed, Chief Greening Officer, Public Building Service, US General Services Administration
Creating a more sustainable government is central to GSA’s mission. As the government’s real estate manager, we are taking steps to make our portfolio more sustainable in support of the Obama administration’s green goals.
GSA owns or leases 9,011 assets, which includes maintaining an inventory of more than 377 million rentable square feet of workspace, and preserving more than 471 historic properties.
GSA is actively taking steps to reduce carbon pollution associated with its operations. The agency leverages technology such as advanced metering, remote building analytics and smart building systems to uncover deeper energy savings opportunities in owned buildings. In FY 2013, GSA reduced energy usage per square foot by 24.7 percent from FY 2003 levels. GSA continues to increase the amount of electricity it procures and generates from renewable sources, reaching 46.3 percent (nearly 1,200 GWh) in FY13. Through these activities, GSA achieved an approximately 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in FY13 from FY 2008 levels.
GSA also uses Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPCs) to improve the efficiency of our buildings through infrastructure upgrades to our building portfolio. As part of the administration’s ESPC Challenge, GSA awarded contracts ranging from 12 to 23 years in payback duration that are projected to reduce the agency’s annual energy consumption by 365 billion Btus, or about the amount of energy used in 3,380 single family homes per year.
GSA will be using an industry technology called “green button” as part of a government-wide program to help reduce energy consumption. Green button provides electricity consumers with secure, easy to understand information on their energy usage by leveraging advanced metering data. GSA partnered with the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency and worked with several utilities to craft a pilot program to use the green button for federal facilities.
GSA’s Green Proving Ground puts green technologies to the test. The program leverages owned assets to perform real-world evaluations of the performance of emerging building technologies that save energy, water, and money. Fifteen results have been published to date. These findings will continue to improve performance in our buildings while assisting industry in deploying new technologies and practices into the broader market.
The agency further reduces the environmental footprint of its owned portfolio through water use reduction and waste prevention. In FY 2013, GSA reduced water usage by over 27 percent from an FY 2007 baseline. This reduction represents over 807 million gallons of water, or the annual water use of over 5,500 average U.S. homes. Additionally, GSA diverted 52 percent of its non-hazardous solid waste from landfills through its recycling programs in FY13.
A leader in sustainable design, GSA was recently recognized by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and its Committee on the Environment (COTE). The COTE selected the Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building, in Portland, Oregon, the U.S. Land Port of Entry at Warroad, Minnesotaand the historic Wayne Aspinall N. Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Grand Junction, Colorado, as three of its top 10 national award winners of sustainable architecture and green design solutions to protect and enhance the environment. Overall, GSA continues to implement the federal Guiding Principles for High Performance and Sustainable Buildings in owned buildings and leased space. In FY 2013, 13.5 percent of the GSA building inventory met these high performance benchmarks.
By continuing to reduce its environmental footprint, GSA will improve building performance and save taxpayer dollars.