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Bibb Tells Summit GSA Can Help Agencies Achieve Green Initiatives

As prepared for delivery

Remarks by
David L. Bibb
Deputy Administrator
U.S. General Services Administration
U.S. Green Building Council Federal Summit 2007
Washington, DC
 June 7, 2007

 

Thank you, John (Howard), for that very kind introduction.

Good afternoon, everyone. I’d like to start by thanking the U.S. Green Building Council for holding this year’s summit. The issues you’re discussing are critical … as serious, you might say, as the air we breathe.

I am GSA’s Lead Environmental Official, as Deputy Administrator, GSA’s senior agency environmental official under the new executive order, and, maybe most important -- as a citizen of the United States and resident on this planet who wants to see our precious resources preserved for future generations.  I attach overriding importance to our nation’s environmental agenda. Administrator Lurita Doan,  Public Buildings Service Commissioner David Winstead, Federal Acquisition Service Commissioner Jim Williams, and I are all committed to an agenda that reduces harmful emissions into the environment, improves energy efficiency, ensures federal agencies access to sustainable products and services, and produces “green” buildings.

Personal journey:

  • started as realty specialist in Atlanta in the 1970’s
  • began to really awaken in the late 1990’s
  • TWN, core-net caused me to think about sustainability as I never had before
  • came back as a “man on a mission”
  • my office, then in Governmentwide Policy at GSA, began to dig deeply into just what this word sustainability really meant
  • a turning point was hosting William Mcdonough and Ray Anderson in 2000.  Both of these eloquent men made a sound business case, but more importantly they knew how to touch the soul at a very deep and meaningful level.
  • Resolved to lead GSA and Federal Real Property community into this new world of sustainability.
  • During this period, my speeches were concerned with raising awareness and urging behavioral changes. Not only did I believe in the importance of responsible change, but each speech also contained a prediction: the day will come when the American public and our federal customers will insist upon sustainability. I always believed that a generation was rising that would not settle for business as usual and the continuing repetition of our disregard for future generations.
  • Ladies and gentlemen, that day has arrived, in my opinion. We have passed the tipping point in this country!! (Example: construction sign touting building amenities, including great views, excellent floor plate sizes, and a LEED gold rating.) Sustainability is a core subject for BOMA, Corenet, just about every major commercial real estate company in the country; it’s in the press; it’s bringing real change to our government.
  • now, it’s not whether, but how we are going to lead and help agencies as they increasingly embrace sustainability as a way of life.

The advance materials for this summit noted that each year, buildings are responsible for 39 percent of c-o-2 emissions in the United States, that buildings consume 70 percent of U.S. electricity and use 15 trillion gallons of water.

By contrast, green buildings use 36 percent less energy than conventional buildings, and reduce c-o-2 emissions by 30 – 50 percent.

One of the messages I’d like to make crystal clear today is that GSA – which has provided superior and best value goods, services and workspace to our customers since 1949 - has a unique ability to help our client agencies be more environment-friendly, a priority for President Bush.

As you know, the President has outlined a plan that calls for:

  • National strategies for the next 10 to 20 years to improve energy security, reduce air pollution, and reduce greenhouse gases;
  • Industry leaders and other experts on power generation, fuels, and buildings to join forces to create a common work program, share best practices, and set environmental targets;
  • And expanding the use of hybrid and clean diesel vehicles and biodiesel fuel.
     

Most know GSA as the government’s landlord. That’s understandable. GSA (PBS) is one of the largest public real estate organizations in the world, with an inventory of nearly 9,000 assets with over 350 million square feet of rentable space across all 50 states, 6 U.S. Territories, and the District of Columbia.  We serve more than 1 million federal employees at over 400 agencies and bureaus.  The GSA portfolio consists primarily of office buildings, courthouses, laboratories, border stations, and warehouses.
 
Next week we will cut the ribbon on a new home for NOAA’s Environmental and Data Processing Operations. A silver leed rating is pending for the NOAA Satellite Operations Facility, located in the Suitland Federal Center in Suitland, Maryland.  Another important facility, the new FDA Engineering and Physics Laboratory in White Oak, Maryland, will also open next week and is also leed-certified.

So we at GSA are well positioned to lead by example. I think we have.

Between 1985 and 2005, GSA achieved the 30 percent reduction in energy consumption target set by the 1992 Energy Policy Act; 

  • We operate our buildings at costs that are 5 percent below comparable buildings in the private sector;
  • And we pay 12 percent less for utilities and have reduced our overall energy consumption by 4.7 percent compared to 2003.

Of the energy used in buildings today, nearly 30 percent is consumed for lighting and office equipment. During the early 1990’s, we extensively retrofitted existing buildings with new energy efficient lighting systems. We met our early goal of 20 percent energy reduction between 1985 and 2000 primarily through these retrofits.

Renewable energy
GSA is also a national leader in the purchase and use of renewable power from utility companies. We’re constantly exploring opportunities to install solar and other on-site generated renewable energy technologies as part of our building design and retrofit programs.

  • In 2006, 4.5 percent of our electricity was generated from renewable sources or bought through renewable energy certificates, compared with a national average of 2.3 percent.
  • Over the last four years, GSA has purchased almost 950,000 megawatt hours of energy from renewable sources through competitive power contracts and through the use of green power programs offered by local distribution companies.  That’s enough energy to power more than 75,000 households for a full year.

GSA is also incorporating solar and other on-site generated renewable energy technologies in our design and retrofit programs.

With regard to buildings, I know you’ve already heard today from Don Horn (Director, Sustainable Design), and Laura Strohbach, so I’ll try not to repeat.  Our objective, in a nutshell, is a holistic, integrated approach that seeks to balance cost, environmental, social, and human benefits with the mission and functional needs of the customer agency. 

In case they didn’t mention it, GSA has earned a LEED rating for 19 buildings to date:  nine are government-owned buildings; 10 are build-to-suit leased buildings.  Of these, six achieved the “certified” level, five achieved “silver,” and eight achieved “gold.” We’ve registered another 70 buildings under the LEED system; upon project completion, they will be eligible for certification. 

GSA integrates sustainable design principles as seamlessly as possible into the design and construction of our buildings and build-to-suit leases through our design excellence program. We involve team members from a wide range of disciplines to dramatically reduce energy consumption. Our goals here are to improve the quality of the work environment and create more productive, healthier workplaces and drive down long-term energy and maintenance expenses.

What we really want, though, is to build this emerald ripple into a green tidal wave. Indeed, our mission includes helping client agencies meet their environmental obligations by providing responsible choices.

GSA offers both quality and convenience, serving as a single source for all of our customers’ workplace needs.  Through PBS, we strive to meet the office and other space requirements of the federal workforce. Through our new Federal Acquisition Service, we offer equipment, supplies, telecommunications, and integrated information technology solutions to customer agencies.  

Our environmental-friendly services and offerings include:

  • The construction and leasing of energy efficient, sustainable-designed buildings;
  • The procurement of renewable utility services;
  • A selection of the latest alternative fuel vehicles;
  • A wide range of environmentally preferable office products;
  • And, environmentally friendly telework and other alternative workplace arrangements.

A few words about telework… you may know that we operate a network of telecenters in the Washington Metropolitan area.  They are good to have, but the number of slots is limited. The real payoff is in home teleworking and other alternative work arrangements.

The Federal Acquisition Service and Public Buildings Services are beginning to work much more closely together, as they craft a unified, one-GSA approach to developing space requirements. It will become standard practice at GSA to ask the right questions of our customers about how we can help them meet their workspace requirements through a combination of traditional buildings, and remote work. This means we must bring our full arsenal of tools to the table: workspace planning and design professionals, telecommunications experts, I-T equipment experts, information security experts, and many others.

It almost goes without saying -- GSA will continue to work with its customers to promote telework and alternative workplace programs.

I’ll close by pointing out that while the cherished GSA logo is blue and white, our favorite color these days is green. Please note that for information on GSA’s environmental resources, you can visit www.gsa.gov/green.  There, you’ll find everything we offer . . . From buildings to green products. And you’ll see improvements (e.g., GSA Advantage Green Aisle).  By the way, we also plan to do a better job of walking the talk by getting all of our internal operations into much better shape with regard to sustainability.

So, whether it’s sophisticated lighting systems, wind power, or telework, we’re fully committed to the goals of the energy policy act and the president’s executive order.

As Deputy Administrator and GSA’s Chief Environmental Official, I’m very pleased that we have a talented, creative and innovative workforce, as well as the resources to help our client agencies – and our nation – become more conscientious stewards of our air, land and water.

Thank you very much.