Energy_Chart

October is National Energy Awareness Month, a 31-day-long opportunity for federal agencies to focus on how they use energy and what they can do to sustainably create and conserve it.

GSA is a leader in both creating and conserving energy, as well as energy usage analysis. This month, we announced that we awarded a competitive power supply contract to a commercial wind developer for the purchase of 140 megawatts of clean wind energy. We also announced that we’ll be hosting a Capital Solar Challenge Industry Day to assist federal agencies in developing solar renewable power at federal sites.

In addition, we blogged about some of the work we’ve done to conserve energy — namely our Smart Occupancy Initiative, which electronically links the physical presence of employees with building energy usage, and the green investments we’re making in the Henry M. Jackson Federal Building and other facilities in our national building portfolio.

But how does GSA know how much energy it uses and whether it’s performing or underperforming in this area? Today’s blog about our Operational Excellence initiative will help answer that question. As we hope you can see, creating and conserving energy isn’t a month-long focus for GSA; it’s part of our everyday operations.

When It Comes to Building Performance, GSA Strives for Operational Excellence

By: Steve Hochman, Energy Specialist, Office of Facilities Management and Services Programs

Design Excellence and Construction Excellence are the centerpieces for quality in the U.S. General Services Administration’s (GSA) Major Construction Program. These initiatives ensure the selection of the best possible architects and integrated design teams for GSA’s most important and visible buildings. The intent is to deliver high quality and high value in our major construction projects.

But what happens after the dust settles?  One year, two years, three years after the partner federal agency takes occupancy? How do we ensure that the building is operating to the government’s satisfaction?

There are multiple factors contributing to the performance or “underperformance” of buildings. However, first-rate operation and maintenance (O&M) is vital to ensuring both tenant satisfaction, and economically sound management of our facilities. This approach is the essence of GSA’s Operational Excellence initiative.

Over the years, more and more tools and programs have come on line at GSA, which are intended to help property managers improve building performance. Installation of Advanced Meters (electric, gas, steam and water), implementation of high tech virtual energy audits, and the use of GSA Link and the Energy Usage Analysis System all contribute to improved energy efficiency and operations.

GSA Link

GSA Link currently identifies building system faults in 81 of our largest buildings in real time and then flags them for building managers to remedy. Building managers can check available data analytics via a user dashboard, which helps them manage the O&M workforce more effectively.

Energy Usage Analysis System

GSA’s Energy Usage and Analysis System collects data and tracks progress towards established energy goals. This robust system harvests years of data at the building level and provides outputs that can be leveraged at the national and regional levels. As the old adage goes, “that which gets measured, gets done,” and this system is the vehicle we use to measure our progress.

Computerized Maintenance Management System

GSA is also moving towards using a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS), which will help maintenance and management staffs serve building occupants more effectively, and standardized O&M specifications that focus on performance. Eventually, all O&M contracts will include energy performance clauses to further drive energy efficiency.

GSA’s Operational Excellence initiative takes a holistic approach to building performance through the implementation of sustainable O&M practices, compliance with the Guiding Principles for Sustainable Existing Buildings, use of third-party building performance evaluation systems, and increased training for building managers and operators. Coupling this approach with the agency’s sustainability goals reduces both cost to the taxpayer and the agency’s environmental footprint while providing better service to our customers.

Below are a few noteworthy outcomes of these efforts:

  • From FY 2008 to FY 2013, GSA’s cost avoidance from reduced water and energy use was $250 Million.
  • In FY 2013, GSA reduced energy usage per square foot of space by 24.7 percent from FY 2003 levels. During the same fiscal year, GSA lowered water usage by over 27 percent from an FY 2007 baseline. This water reduction represents over 807 million gallons of water, or the annual water use of over 5,500 U.S. homes.
  • Additionally in FY 2013, GSA diverted 52 percent of its non-hazardous solid waste from landfills through its recycling programs.

These outcomes prove that we can operate buildings in a sustainable, cost effective way, and still exceed partner agency expectations.