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Bibb Highlights GSA Green Offerings, Initiatives at Real Property Association Conference

Remarks by
David L. Bibb
Acting Administrator
U.S. General Services Administration
Federal Real Property Association 2008 Conference
 Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center
Washington, DC
May 6, 2008


Thank you, Kimberly.

Good morning, everyone.

I appreciate this opportunity to speak with you today on a subject that is very important to me, our environment.

Preserving our environment and its precious resources was a top GSA priority long before green became such a fashionable color. 

For instance, GSA has been a longtime leader in incorporating principles of sustainable design and energy efficiency in our building projects. 

As the government’s premier procurement agency, we:

  • Offer some 10,000 green goods and services;
  • Make eco-friendly procurement easier and easier for federal agencies;
  • And we have for many years helped agencies with energy-efficient, cost-effective recycling programs.

In fact, at this moment, GSA recycling programs are serving more than 650,000 government employees and contractors in more than 1,100 government-owned and leased buildings.

So you see we take our environmental responsibilities seriously.  We’re using green principles and leading by example in the efficient use of energy, water and materials, as well as promoting design schemes that enhance productivity in the work environment.

And we are constantly improving our efforts and those of other federal agencies to comply with President Bush’s Environmental Executive Order 13423, Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management.

In keeping with the President’s Executive Order, GSA created the new Office of High-Performance Green Buildings.  Housed in PBS, this Office ensures that all federal buildings are meeting sustainable design and energy-reduction targets mandated by the recently-enacted Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

I’d like to talk to you today about the environmental work underway at GSA, how we have positioned ourselves to help other agencies be more energy-efficient, and about our commitment to sustainable design or “green” buildings. GSA environmental initiatives touch many parts of daily life. Let me give you a few examples:

Telework is a valuable tool that reduces gridlock in major urban areas, saves gasoline, and reduces harmful emissions.

  • It enables employees to balance work and personal responsibilities and contributes to making GSA one of the “best places to work in the federal government,” as rated by an independent survey.
  • GSA has developed 14 telework centers that each year save 2.8 million travel miles and keep 2.3 million pounds of emissions out of the air we breathe.
  • Our goal was to have 20 percent of our eligible employees teleworking at least one day a week by the end of this year, and 50 percent by the end of 2010.  As of March 31, 2008, participation across the board at GSA is at 18 percent and moving closer and closer to the 20 percent target.
     
    Related to telework is GSA’s Green Procurement Program, which promotes the purchase and use of recovered material content products, environmentally preferable products and services, and biobased products.

This program is mandated by:

  • The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which requires federal agencies to procure and use products containing recovered materials, and environmentally preferable and biobased products. 
  • It is also mandated by Executive Order #13423, and the Energy Policy Act, which requires federal agencies to purchase products that are Energy Star qualified and designated by the Federal Energy Management Program.

Closely aligned with the procurement program is our effort to turn public and private data centers nationwide into “green” data centers.  Data centers are facilities that house computer servers, databases, and related systems. The key here is that data center consolidation presents opportunities for tremendous energy savings and operational efficiencies:

  • They account for roughly 1.5 percent of the total energy consumption in the U.S.;
  • The costs of cooling and electricity are 40-50 percent of a data centers’ total cost of ownership.
  • Experts in GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service are assessing those opportunities and will be executing a plan later this year.

We also have environmental initiatives that impact our schedules:

For example, an environmental aisle has been added to GSA Advantage.  This allows federal buyers to purchase thousands of energy efficient products and services online.

We’ve also added an energy services schedule specifically designed to help meet the goals of Executive Order 13123. This schedule offers items such as energy management  program support and energy audit services. The schedule also offers our clients management and procurement services for natural gas, electricity and energy from renewable sources.

Some of our green offerings are targeted at new buildings. I’m talking here about things like:

Green roofs, which you can find in the design of the NOAA Satellite Operations Building in Suitland, Maryland, the Social Security Administration Building in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and the U. S. Department of Transportation Headquarters in Washington, DC.  These planted roofs can substantially reduce rainwater run-off during storms and provide significant insulation for the buildings.

Underfloor air distribution is another feature that we’ve incorporated in places like the Regional Headquarters Building of the Environmental Protection Agency in Denver, Colorado, and the Wayne l. Morse courthouse building in Eugene, Oregon.  Underfloor air distribution delivers cooling and heating air at floor level instead of from the ceiling.   It is energy-efficient, enhances indoor air quality, and increases flexibility for space configuration.


Some of these new initiatives are already being implemented; Some will be implemented in the fall.

The bottom line is that GSA is working hard to help other federal agencies meet their environmental obligations by:

  • Providing a wide range of environmentally friendly services and products such as energy-efficient lighting;
  • Offering alternative fuel vehicles & hybrid electric vehicles for lease and purchase;
  • Purchasing and using renewable power from utility companies;
  • Helping to maintain cost-effective waste prevention and recycling programs;
  • Buying green services - from waste management services to hazardous material management; and by
  • Incorporating green requirements into our contracts. 

Green buildings deserve special mention, for they are critical to protecting and preserving our natural resources today and in the future. As Acting Administrator and as GSA’s Chief Environmental Official, I assure you our agency is fully committed to leadership in the design, construction and operation of high-performance, sustainable federal buildings. 

The terms “sustainable design” and “green building” refer to facilities that are located, designed, built and operated to consider impacts on the natural environment. These buildings use natural resources efficiently, improve building performance, and address the health and comfort of building occupants.

For example, the Carl T. Curtis Midwest Regional Headquarters of the National Park Service in Omaha, Nebraska is a build-to-suit lease that features underfloor air distribution throughout, abundant daylighting, native landscaping, waterless urinals, dual flush toilets, and 100 percent green power purchase. Waterless urinals don’t sound very glamorous, but it turns out that these devices save 40,000 gallons of water per urinal, per year.

Another example is the Federal Office Building in Oklahoma City.  It has an underfloor air distribution system.  it also has light shelves located outside of the building that reduce the amount of heat radiating into the building from the sun while increasing the amount of natural light and high ceilings that help direct daylight deep into the work environment.

GSA started incorporating sustainable design requirements into its standard business process nearly a decade ago.  This commitment is spelled out in technical publications such as the Facilities Standards for the Public Building Service (the design guide for all GSA construction), the Design Excellence Program Guide (which guides selection of architects and engineers), standardized scopes of work (for a/e’s, feasibility studies, and commissioning), and our solicitation for offers for leased space.

Examples of sustainable design include: high efficiency lighting which uses less energy, provides more light, and is less costly than fluorescent lighting, and high efficiency coolers which use less energy than the older models.  Savings are contingent upon the facility, for example, the high efficiency cooler in the Duncan Federal Building in Knoxville, Tennessee uses two-thirds less energy.

In 2001, GSA was the first federal agency to join the U.S. Green Building Council. Today we require the council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for all major capital projects.

As many of you know, the LEED green building rating system is a third party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.  LEED provides building owners and operators with the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their building’s performance.

GSA has the most LEED-rated buildings of any government organization.  We currently have 75 projects registered for LEED certification.  To date, GSA has earned LEED ratings in 25 buildings.

Does that mean we’re satisfied? No, In fact, we recently completed a study to determine if GSA green buildings are operating at peak performance. 

The twelve buildings studied ranged from “designed for exceptional energy efficiency (Energy Star)” to, “achieving LEED gold certification.”  Compared to U.S. commercial buildings, GSA buildings produced 33 percent lower carbon emissions, used 26 percent less energy and 3 percent less water, and their occupants were 29 percent more satisfied than U.S. commercial building occupants.

The LEED gold buildings performed markedly better, using 34 percent less energy, and 54 percent less domestic water and their occupants reported 34 percent greater satisfaction.

What does this tell us? It tells us that fully integrated design delivers higher performance, lower costs and happier tenants.

The buildings I’m talking about include:

  • The Coyle Courthouse and Federal Building in Fresno, California, notable for high efficiency lighting, under-floor air distribution systems, water-cooled chillers, and natural gas boilers; 
  • The courtrooms of the Davenport Courthouse in Iowa incorporate techniques to bring in daylight and the mechanical systems use variable speed drives. 
  • The Omaha Department of Homeland Security, a LEED gold building, incorporates daylight and rainwater harvesting systems, a ground source heat pump, and green seal janitorial products; and …
  • The Duncan Federal Building in Knoxville, Tennessee, incorporates high-efficiency lighting, enhanced metering techniques, and low-flow fixtures.  The roof reduces the heat island effect.

I’ll also quickly mention that the company that manages the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, which is owned and operated by GSA, recently launched a green meeting and event package for conference clients. 

This package is part of an aggressive campaign to find innovative and environmentally sound practices that enable guests to hold first-rate, five-star events in a way that does not harm the environment.

Highlights of the green meeting package include:

  • The use of cloth, ceramic and glass whenever possible, minimizing the use of disposable products;
  • Cream, sugar and condiments bought in bulk and served in bowls rather than individually packaged;
  • All documents printed double-sided on non-bleached, non de-inked paper; and
  • Appropriate recycling bins used in all areas, located in central locations, readily available and clearly marked.

Responses from clients on this green meeting package have been excellent. That’s encouraging.
 
In a similar vein, GSA’s environmental efforts are getting international attention. Recently, our rocky mountain region provided a tour of its one-megawatt solar park for a delegation of 13 visiting government officials from South Asia.  their objective was to learn best practices regarding government policies that promote renewable energy, analyze commercially proven renewable energy technologies, and work to apply that knowledge with practical applications in South Asia.

As I wrap up, remember:

Green has taken off because it’s the right thing to do. GSA is committed to an agenda that is environmentally friendly.  Whether it’s teleworking, environmentally preferable office products, green roofs, self-generated renewable projects, or alternative fueled vehicles, GSA is doing its part to pave the way to a greener tomorrow.

Thank you very much.