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Washington Business Leaders Hear GSA Recovery Project Progress

As prepared for delivery.


Remarks By Paul Prouty
Acting Administrator
U.S. General Services Administration
Greater Washington Board of Trade
Stimulus Funding Opportunities Conference
Washington, DC
July 21, 2009

It’s my pleasure to be with all of you today.

It’s an exciting time for all of us who have spent our professional lives in public service. This is a time where government is being called on to help the country at a time when it needs it the most. And we in government will show that we are up to the task. As you can imagine, we at GSA are thrilled to have a significant role in the recovery.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has created incredible opportunities for GSA and for the many companies – both large and small – that will undertake this important work on behalf of the nation.

But let’s frame this discussion by remembering why we’re doing this – we’re helping the people we see on TV:

  • We’re helping those who have lost their jobs or are in fear of losing their jobs.
  • We’re providing hope and opportunity for those whose futures are uncertain.
  • We’re helping to jump start the economy.
  • We’re putting people back to work.

We’ve got an incredible opportunity to build an even stronger nation for our children and beyond, one in which clean energy and environmental sustainability are not goals to be achieved, but standards by which everything is measured.

For GSA, that means we’re committed to green building projects and replacing the federal fleet with energy-efficient vehicles.

Regarding the later, we’re well underway, having ordered more than 17,000 fuel-efficient vehicles – including 3,100 hybrids – for the federal fleet at a cost of $287 million.  Deliveries to our customer agencies are in progress.

A much bigger – and longer term – focus will be on the real property side.

GSA, through its Public Buildings Service, is one of the largest and most diversified public real estate organizations in the world.  Our inventory consists of more than 8,600 owned and leased assets with nearly 354 million square feet of rentable space across all 50 states, six territories and the District of Columbia.

In March, GSA submitted to Congress a $5.5 billion spending proposal detailing the building projects we will accomplish with Recovery Act funds:

  • $750 million of those funds are being directed to the renovation and construction of federal buildings and courthouses;
  • $300 million for the renovation and construction of land ports of entry; and,
  • $4.5 billion for measures necessary to convert federal buildings into high-performance green buildings.

These include full and partial building modernizations, limited scope projects, and small projects; from installing energy efficient lighting fixtures for $14,000 to designing and constructing a new Land Port of Entry for $200 million.  These projects were selected based on their potential to put people to work quickly, address many long-standing infrastructure needs of our portfolio, and to contribute to our collective sustainability goals.

Vice President Biden made it very clear when he said:
“Our number one priority with the Recovery Act is getting folks back to work – and there is no better way to do that in these early days than by putting shovels in the ground and jump-starting projects like these that create jobs and boost local communities.”

In our local community – the National Capital Region – we will be spending more than $1.2 billion.  And that’s not counting projects we’ll undertake on behalf of other agencies using their Recovery Act dollars.

Locally, major projects include:

  • $60 million to continue to modernize, refurbish, and build-out the Department of Interior building.
  • $68 million to complete Phase 2 of the modernization of the Mary Switzer building, which is occupied by the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • $138 million for the first of two modernization projects for the Lafayette building.  This also includes restoration and preservation of historic areas.
  • $161 million for the first phase of GSA’s headquarters building at 1800 F Street.
  • $226 million to complete Phases 2 and 3 of the renovation, restoration and modernization of the Herbert Hoover building just down the street, home of the Commerce Department.

And, of course, $450 million for the new DHS headquarters at the St. Elizabeths campus in Anacostia.  Groundbreaking for this first phase – development of a new headquarters for the U.S. Coast Guard – is scheduled for September.

These projects are representative of projects nationwide, where we’re extending the life of very useful assets, while at the same time making them more energy efficient and better places overall for the people who work in and visit them.

Not surprisingly, these DC-area projects represent more than a third of the dollars to be spent on full or partial building modernizations.

While these projects will be the standard-bearers in our area, there are nearly 20 additional limited scope energy projects, valued at nearly $98 million, slated in the region.

We also anticipate receiving approximately $2 billion from customer agencies nationwide, including SSA, Department of State, NOAA, CBP, and DHS, to assist with their Recovery Act building projects.

But whatever the size of the project, we’re all about building green.  A key GSA goal is to manage assets responsibly and provide best value to our client agencies and the American taxpayer.

High-performing green buildings do just that, through life cycle cost benefits and positive effects on human health and performance.

Last year, GSA conducted a study of our 12 earliest green federal building, which showed a 26 percent decrease in energy use and a 27 percent increase in occupant satisfaction, compared to commercial office building benchmarks.

More importantly, the four top buildings, which used an integrated, sustainable design approach, delivered even better results:

  • 45 percent less energy consumption.
  • 53 percent lower maintenance costs.
  • 39 percent less water use.

But sustainability is not just about cost savings.  Good sustainable design offers environmental and societal benefits in addition to the economic benefits.

A green roof, for example, lowers roof temperatures, decreasing cooling requirements … clearly an economic benefit.  But it also reduces the environmental impact of a building by reducing pollution from the building’s power usage and reducing the building’s impact on the city’s heat island effect.

Green roofs also reduce storm water runoff, a significant advantage in places like Washington where storm water contributes to pollution on the Potomac and Anacostia rivers, and downstream in the Chesapeake Bay.

Societal benefits include physically and aesthetically pleasing effects for building occupants and neighbors … and jobs.

The key point is that government is taking the lead in green building and will drive the entire industry as a whole.  We can – and are – influencing and accelerating the adoption of sustainable building practices across the country.  The jobs created across the design, engineering, manufacturing, construction, and operations industries will bolster what has become known as the green economy.  You'll be hearing from the expert, Kevin Kampschroer, Acting Director of our Office of Federal High Performing Buildings, later today.

In this regard, we are not only achieving a fundamental objective of the recovery act – putting people to work – but playing an essential role in reducing the government consumption of energy and water, increasing our use of clean and renewable sources of energy, and building toward a clean energy future.

Given the complexity of the assignment, in March we formed a nationally managed, regionally executed Program Management Office, headed by Bill Guerin, to oversee these projects.  The PMO is maintaining an aggressive schedule and is fully supported by team in each of our 11 regions.

As a result, we are on target to obligate $1 billion by August 1st.

Moreover, bids are coming in approximately 10 percent less than we estimated.  That means we’ll be able to do even more projects than we originally scoped.

As I said at the outset, there are many opportunities for local businesses large and small.  I encourage you to attend the breakout session with Bart Bush, from GSA’s National Capital Region, later in today’s program to hear about the specifics.

I should also add that GSA is helping – and is ready to help – other federal agencies in meeting their goals under the Recovery Act legislation.  There are thousands of private sector businesses – many of them yours – offering cost effective, high quality, and environmentally friendly commercial products and services through GSA schedules.  We can facilitate green purchasing options and offer environmentally friendly products and services through our GSA Advantage ordering system.

Through these programs, we believe we can influence the spending of as much as 50 billion additional Recovery Act dollars.

In short, we’re here to help.  There is an incredible amount of work to do.  GSA – with your help – is prepared to meet the challenge.

Thank you.