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Leading by Example: The Federal Government's Sustainable Future

With a portfolio including 350 million square feet of public buildings, 200,000 federal vehicles, and a flow of goods and services throughout government totaling $95 billion, the General Services Administration is moving the federal government towards a more sustainable future.

2010 was a historic year for the General Services Administration (GSA). With a portfolio including 350 million square feet of public buildings, 200,000 federal vehicles, and a flow of goods and services throughout government totaling $95 billion, GSA has the capacity to impact every corner of government in every region of the country. In 2010, President Obama set a bold agenda for GSA to change the way the government does business by:

  • Creating jobs and supporting American businesses by leading the Federal government to a sustainable future;
  • Identifying sustainable products ranging from vehicles to cleaning products that will reduce the Federal government’s environmental footprint and save millions of taxpayer dollars; and,
  • Laying the framework for an emerging clean energy economy.

GSA delivered. Here’s a look back at 2010 and a look forward to 2011:

Established the Federal Government as a Leader in the Sustainable Building Market

In order to meet President Obama’s goals of a 28% reduction in Federal greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution by 2020 and a net-zero-energy building requirement by 2030, GSA began sustainable construction and retrofit projects around the country, employing 500 businesses and creating jobs in all 50 states. Moving forward, all GSA construction projects will achieve at least a LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for GSA’s use of cutting-edge and sustainable design and technology.

Reduced Carbon Emissions and Saved Taxpayer Money by Greening the Federal Automobile Fleet

After President Obama called for a 30% reduction Federal vehicle petroleum use by 2020, GSA doubled the Federal government’s hybrid fleet, replacing 22,000 of the least fuel efficient cars and trucks with more fuel efficient vehicles, including almost 9,000 hybrids. The increase in fuel efficiency will reduce Federal petroleum consumption by over 20 million gallons of gas, saving taxpayers almost $65 million over five years.

Used Government as a “Green Proving Ground” for Innovative, Sustainable Technologies

GSA is the government’s “green proving ground,” where new sustainable technologies and systems can be tested and best practices can be brought to the market. Because GSA owns and operates buildings in every climate and most altitudes in the country, GSA has a unique position as a test bed for learning what works -- and what doesn't -- in green and sustainable building. GSA is installing solar panels, geothermal wells, chilled beams, advanced lighting and metering systems, and vegetative and reflective roofs across the nation, providing projects that develop skills and create local green sector architecture, engineering, and construction jobs.

Incentivized Sustainability for Companies Doing Business with the Federal Government

More than 60 companies enrolled in the GreenGov Supply Chain Partnership and Small Business Pilot, a voluntary collaboration between the federal government and its suppliers to create a greener, more efficient supply chain. GSA and the Council on Environmental Quality will jointly host a year of trainings for these businesses to learn how to develop GHG inventories and take steps to reduce their GHG emissions. GSA will use data from the program to develop contracting incentives for all companies bidding to do business with the Federal government to measure and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Equipped All Government Agencies to Measure and Reduce Their Greenhouse Gas Emissions

President Obama called on all Federal agencies to measure their GHG emissions by January 30, 2011 and submit plans to reduce those emissions. GSA created a free, web-based Carbon Footprint Tool for Federal agencies to use in completing their comprehensive GHG inventories, including carbon emissions, water usage, GHG emissions related to commuting, and the return on investment agencies can expect from adopting sustainable lighting, technology solutions, and other products. The Carbon Footprint Tool gives every agency the ability to quickly identify areas for GHG emissions reduction so they can set reduction targets and monitor their progress year after year.

A Look Forward

GSA’s progress toward a more sustainable government in 2010 will have lasting impacts. Construction and retrofit projects will proceed around the country, continuing to create jobs and positively impact the economic recovery in every state. GSA will continue to accelerate the addition of hybrid vehicles to the Federal fleet, saving taxpayer dollars. And GSA will continue to pursue bipartisan solutions that support American businesses, create jobs, and leverage the purchasing power of the government to drive a clean energy economy.

GSA Administrator Johnson and Solar Panels

GSA Administrator Martha Johnson, U.S. Rep. Andre Carson, and GSA Officials look at newly installed solar panels at the Maj. Gen. Emmett J. Bean Federal Center in Indianapolis. GSA is installing the latest energy-efficient solar technology that will produce over 1.8 megawatts of renewable energy and reduce peak usage by 6 percent.