Building a high-performing energy conservation model takes long-term commitment. As a federal agency specializing in procurement, General Services Administration (GSA) shows how sustainable progress can be achieved.
Federal agencies must meet or exceed key targets for energy conservation. In terms of overall energy usage, this includes a minimum of 7.5 percent renewable electricity.
In 2020, GSA achieved an 11.1 percent performance rating for renewable electricity, according to the OMB Scorecard for Efficient Federal Operations and Management.
The scorecard contains the most recent assessment for GSA’s operational efficiency. GSA demonstrated a range of improvements over the prior year. These include energy diversification measures.
Among the highlights:
- Petroleum fuel use in covered fleet fell by more than 40 percent
- Energy intensity (Btu/GSF) dropped by 4.3 percent
- Potable water intensity decreased by 7.9 percent
The scorecard also revealed 2,250 annual British thermal units (Btu) saved per $1 of investment.
Sustainable Maintenance at GSA PBS Sites
In addition to operational sustainability, preservation of historic sites is also key for GSA Public Buildings Service (GSA PBS).
GSA PBS helps other federal agencies access “workspace and furnishings at best value to the American taxpayer,” according to gsa.gov.
In New Orleans, for example, GSA PBS manages four historic sites. These include the:
- Hale Boggs Federal Building
- U.S. Custom House
- John Minor Wisdom U.S. Court of Appeals Building
- Edward Hebert Federal Building
These sites equate to more than 1.5 million square feet of office space.
Every day, each location requires comprehensive cleaning. Porcelain and metal surfaces must be polished, trash removed, windows washed, floor surfaces maintained, etc. Even the atrium plants need to be wiped.
The requirements are vast, and the solutions must be sustainable.
The onsite team includes dozens of people. Of this group, 90 percent have a disability and perform their work with excellence within the AbilityOne Program. AbilityOne helps people with disabilities find employment by working for nonprofit agencies that sell products or services to the U.S. government.
“The PRIDE Industries partnership with GSA PBS exemplifies an incredible social mission in action,” says Matt Durkovich, Director of Business Development for Government Services.
“Individuals from all backgrounds can contribute towards our customer’s mission, while realizing their true potential and leading more independent lives. This helps normalize the inclusion of people with disabilities, throughout the workplace.”
As professionals, the team members are highly skilled at providing essential sanitization services. They use sustainable cleaning products manufactured to the standards of the EPA’s Safer Choice program. Created by PRIDE Industries, the ecofriendly products contain no ammonia and no phosphates, and are biodegradable.
When using these products onsite, organizations can earn points towards Green Cleaning Products and Materials Credit, which is required for LEED certification.
Operational Cost Benefits from LEED Certification
GSA PBS has since achieved LEED certification at two more sites: the Potter Federal Courthouse, in Ohio, and the Richard Sheppard Arnold Courthouse, in Arkansas.
Both are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The process of achieving LEED certification plays an important role in reducing operational costs. It also helps minimize the building’s carbon footprint.
“LEED certified buildings save money, improve efficiency, lower carbon emissions and create healthier places for people,” according to the U.S. Green Building Council, which provides the certification.
“(LEED buildings) are a critical part of addressing climate change and meeting ESG (environmental, social, and governance) goals, enhancing resilience, and supporting more equitable communities,” the council says.
Recycling: Key to a Successful Energy Conservation Model
Alongside sustainable cleaning protocols, recycling has also been instrumental to the energy conservation model of GSA PBS.
In 2016, a federal mandate required all federal properties to recycle at least 50 percent of their waste. GSA PBS leaders at the New Orleans sites had three years to achieve this goal.
As partners, the team from PRIDE Industries designed a new on-site recycling system. They also met in person with building users to deliver education on recycling.
These GSA PBS sites now recycle 90 percent of waste. As a conservation measure, the ability to produce goods from recycled materials helps save critical energy.
“If we’re going to do it, we may as well go as high as we can,” says David McNeese, Regional Operations Manager at PRIDE Industries, who helped lead the project.