By Bradley Nies
GSA Heartland Sustainability Program Manager
As the landlord for the federal government, the U.S. General Services Administrations manages more than 11 million square feet in the Kansas City metro area, including 17 federally-owned buildings and more than 120 commercial leases, and housing more than 35,000 employees. Across the country, we manage more than 1,500 federally-owned buildings and 8,100 commercial leases.
It’s a big mission, and it also means we must set the standard in energy sustainability.
In the Heartland Region, which comprises Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska, we have reduced energy use in our facilities by 20 percent since 2003, and by 25 percent nationwide over that time. In fiscal year 2013 alone, GSA’s Heartland Region realized $570,000 in utility cost avoidance, as compared to fiscal year 2012.
Innovative Tools and Techniques
- GSA began benchmarking its facilities and tracking performance through the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager.
- Heartland GSA partnered with Pacific Northwest National Labs to conduct Targeted Energy Efficiency Expert Evaluations at facilities across the four states. No- and low-cost efficiency solutions were identified, and Energyplus models based on existing conditions and operations were developed.
- Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, GSA implemented solutions such as lighting retrofits, low-flow fixtures, pump upgrades and chiller replacements at buildings region wide.
- GSA began using the Green Proving Ground, a program to assess energy efficiency technologies, share information among projects, and develop strategic partnerships with other federal agencies.
- GSA also utilized the Sustainable Facilities Tool, which offers useful sustainable guidance and tools for a variety of roles.
Top-Performing Heartland Facilities
Here’s a quick look at some specific measures that have been taken at three GSA facilities in the Heartland Region.
- Energy use is down 34 percent at the Richard Bolling Federal Building in Kansas City, Mo., and a 14-year, four-phase modernization project is underway. The project includes new air distribution, new plumbing, partial reroofing and insulation upgrades. Also included are a complete interior renovation with lighting upgrades, a cafeteria upgrade including food waste composting, a 111,000-gallon rainwater collection and reuse system, and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-Commercial Interiors (LEED-CI) Certification.
- At the Robert J. Dole U.S. Courthouse in Kansas City, Kan., there has been a 39 percent reduction in energy use. Projects include a roof replacement, cooling tower refurbishment, new chiller installations, advanced metering, and HVAC, lighting control and light fixture upgrades.
- The U.S. Courthouse in Wichita Kan., won first place in the 2013 Department of Energy Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) Better Buildings Federal Awards, which recognize the federal government’s highest-performing buildings through a competition to reduce annual energy use intensity. The courthouse reduced energy use by 20 percent during fiscal year 2013, and tallied $40,000 in savings over a 12-month period.
GSA manages and maintains these high-performing facilities. The federal agency is responsible for building performance, tenant comfort and a host of other factors.
GSA’s mission is to deliver the best value in real estate, acquisition and technology services to the federal government and the American people. GSA’s Heartland facilities encompass nearly 25 million square feet of commercial space in 420 buildings, including courthouses, office buildings, data centers, laboratories, child care centers, warehouses and exterior plazas.
Nationwide, the agency manages more than 350 million square feet of commercial space.
With that much influence in real estate, GSA, along with other federal agencies, was tapped by the White House to lead by example toward a clean energy economy.
In September 2010, the White House released Federal Agency Strategic Sustainability Performance Plans required by Executive Order 13514. For the GSA, these Sustainability Plan goal areas included:
• Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions;
• Development and maintenance of a comprehensive greenhouse gas inventory;
• Identification of high-performance green buildings;
• Regional and local collaborative planning;
• Water use efficiency and management;
• Pollution prevention and waste elimination;
• Sustainable acquisition;
• Electronic stewardship; and
• Agency innovation.
It is by striving to exceed the Sustainability Plan goals, that GSA has realized significant energy savings in the Heartland and nationwide.