President Obama has directed federal agencies to lead by example and meet environmental, energy and economic performance standards. The President also directed agencies to develop practices that would increase the alternative fuel vehicles in the federal fleet. GSA’s Northwest/Arctic Region is making the federal government more sustainable by helping local agencies meet these goals by conserving energy, testing new technologies, and reducing utility costs.
For example, GSA’s Northwest/Arctic Region recently helped Navy Base Everett in Washington state to become the first Navy Base fleet in the nation to be 100 percent compliant in using alternative fueled vehicles. The Navy installed an E85 fueling station so these vehicles can operate using alternate fuel that helps reduce consumption of conventional unleaded gas. Regional Fleet Service Representatives Lee Heydlauff and Georgette Brock partnered with the Navy to complete this challenge as part of GSA’s ongoing effort to save agencies money and be sustainable.
In addition to helping our customers meet their energy targets, GSA uses its leverage as the nation’s largest real estate broker to evaluate energy saving technologies for federal buildings. The Northwest/Arctic Region recently installed a honeycomb solar hot water system on the roof of the Auburn, Washington, Regional Administration Building as part of the “Green Proving Ground” program and to support the agency’s commitment to sustainability and innovation.
The honeycomb solar panels are a thermal system that utilizes the sun to heat water for use in the building for employees.. The technology was designed to help GSA meet the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA). The EISA requires that 30 percent of GSA’s hot water demand be met with solar hot water, where cost effective. The honeycomb panels are crystal hexagonal “lenses” that focus the sun’s rays to amplify the energy. These types of collector panels work more effectively in cold and temperate climate zones such as the Pacific Northwest. According to the manufacturer’s estimates, the solar panels could save approximately 247.6 therms, the unit of measurement for natural gas, per year. At a current natural gas cost of $10.91 per therm, the estimated savings would be approximately $2,700 per year.
The system will be operational in May 2013 and will provide hot water for the building’s cafeteria as well as supplying domestic hot water throughout the building. The system is also capable of providing secondary preheating loop to the building’s hydronic system / boilers. The energy delivered by these panels will be metered to show the actual performance of the system to demonstrate cost effectiveness and analyzed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. If this technology proves to be viable in the northwest as one that pays back within the lifetime of the system, then it is likely to be deployed in other areas to meet the EISA requirement.