Green Sustainable Technology

Man pressing finger on the word sustainability

1800 F is a model for the new federal workplace. As you walk through it, or read about it, you may never learn all of the technology needed to maintain, and support the staff working there. David Shive, Associate CIO for Enterprise Infrastructure and Acting Associate CIO for Corporate Systems explains the technology that works behind the scenes and enables the success of the 1800 F Workplace and GSA’s new Smart Occupancy Initiative.

Walking into an empty room, the lights come on. In the afternoon, as the sun glares in the window, shades suddenly start to lower. Are these the ghosts of past GSA employees? No, those are just two new technological innovations helping GSA to Go Green. At GSA we understand the responsibility that the federal government has to ensure environmental sustainability: We are proud to be a leader in sustainability. From energy and water efficient buildings, to a fuel efficient fleet, to smarter electronics disposal and green acquisitions, GSA is using technology to ensure that the agency is going green and saving green. In direct response to an executive order, GSA’s Public Buildings Service has initiated the Green Proving Ground program. The goal is to meet target sustainability goals and develop effective ways to reduce energy usage. With the enhancements to the GSA headquarters building at 1800 F, we hope to exceed the federal sustainability mandates towards green technology.

We have automated our area and task lighting at 1800 F. The integrated GSA team, comprised of PBS, OAS and GSA IT, designed and installed motion sensors that automatically manage the lights in the restrooms, breakrooms and service centers (common areas where we keep office supplies, printers, fax and copy machines). Since these rooms aren’t being used every minute of every day, there’s no reason for the lights to remain on. A highly efficient LED desktop task light is available at each of the employee workstations. These task lights sense movement and shut off when no worker is present. In addition to those sensors, there are sensors on the overhead lights closest to the windows. During the day, the overhead florescent lights will be dimmer next to the window versus the ones in the center of the room. As the sun sets lower in the sky and natural light dims, the lights automatically readjust in intensity to provide optimal working conditions.

The automatic lighting ties in with automated window shades throughout the building. Not only do the shades adjust the natural lighting conditions but they are also programmed to automatically adjust based on temperature and other environmental factors as well. That means in the winter they’ll help retain the heat by creating an additional barrier to the cold outside; in the summer, they’ll provide much needed shaded cooling effects. There is a delicate balance between lighting and temperature and GSA has deployed a variety of sensors located throughout the building that constantly monitor the ambient conditions and make adjustments. This sort of “condition tailoring” extends to the way the climate control systems are programmed. 1800 F uses many apps with precise geo-location and building position so that shades and lighting are automatically set for our location, orientation and season. Yet, these systems also include adaptive intelligence, enabled by “inclement day sensors” that will adjust to the actual light levels coming from outside depending on actual conditions. GSA is using cutting-edge technology to create a more sustainable government.

It isn’t just the lighting and window shades in the physical building that are leading the way towards increased sustainability. GSA has reduced the IT energy footprint in its buildings by installing modernized, energy-efficient computing, networking and storage systems when necessary and by centralizing and consolidating infrastructure into green IT-centric data center facilities. These facilities are built specifically to house and run infrastructure in the most efficient manner possible, while avoiding the duplicative heating, cooling and physical and logical security of large server rooms throughout the enterprise. This strategy, coupled with the GSA adoption of the federal cloud-first strategy has driven energy efficient greening into the delivery of every GSA computing system, including those in use at 1800 F. As my colleague, Liz DelNegro, Associate Chief Information Officer of Acquisition IT Services mentioned in a recent post, GSA IT has led our response to the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative. This consolidation and the use of cloud technology helps GSA meet OMB’s government-wide goals for data center reduction including increased energy efficiency, reduced real estate footprint and decreased costs.

Technology helps us realize even more reductions in energy through the use of energy efficient electronics and software. In 2013 GSA’s flagship building at 1800 F was reopened and can now accommodate a significantly higher number of workers than it was originally designed to accommodate. The new open work environment precipitated the need to develop a hoteling or reservation system for seating. Our hoteling system makes it possible for employees to reserve seating and conference space only when needed, freeing space for other uses. Since there is very little assigned or permanent seating, employees only need to map to a network printer near their daily seat assignment, eliminating the need for local printers and their subsequent energy, consumables, maintenance and hardware lifecycle needs. It is hoped that by the end of FY14 the employee to printer ratio will go up to fourteen employees per single printer and with that, a huge annual savings will be achieved.

Creating a more sustainable government is vital to our mission. At a time when every agency is feeling the effect of tightening budgets, GSA can deliver significant savings in technology, acquisitions and real estate. The Associate CIO of GSA’s Public Buildings Information Technology, Phil Klokis, stated in a recent blog that, “PBS is seen as a global thought leader in smart building industries”. That technology then turns into major taxpayer savings.

GSA IT remains committed to serve as stewards of the environment, government acquisition, public building and technology solutions and taxpayers dollars. GSA IT takes its responsibility to deliver efficient, sustainable, energy-wise building technology and solutions seriously and this commitment extends to all aspects of the GSA technology enterprise and to all facets of GSA operations.