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Bibb Stresses GSA Commitment to Environment in Address to Real Property Group

Remarks by
David L. Bibb
Deputy Administrator
U.S. General Services Administration
Federal Real Property Advisory Group Meeting
American Institute of Architects, Washington, DC
 September 11, 2007


Thank you, Stan.

Good morning, everyone.  I appreciate this opportunity to speak with you today on a subject I hold near and dear to my heart, our environment. 

We also happen to be meeting on a solemn day for America. September 11th is a day we must never forget, one that reminds us we should never take the future for granted.

Take a moment … imagine the sun against an azure sky, the scent of wildflowers carried by the wind, the touch of grass beneath bare feet …

The choices we make today will increase or diminish what our children, our grandchildren, and many, many generations to come will be able to see, smell, touch and enjoy.  This is the essence of sustainability -- preserving the gifts of nature -- creating what humankind needs without destroying the natural world. In fact, I strongly submit that sustainability not only means preservation of what we have now, but also implies that we will find ways to reverse some of the damage that we have done.

You may know that GSA Administrator Lurita Doan named me the Agency’s Senior Environmental Official.  I’m responsible for giving focus and direction, both internally (we want to walk the talk) and to GSA’s efforts to help other federal agencies comply with President Bush’s Environmental Executive Order 13423, Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management.  It’s clear to me that many in the administration are looking to GSA to take a leadership role. The Federal Environmental Executive, Ed Pinero, and I have met and he reinforced that very point and our ideal position to be a Governmentwide leader, which I already had in mind.

This leadership role was somewhat formalized at the last meeting of all the Federal Senior Environmental Officials, when Clay Johnson named the group’s first subcommittee, an advisory committee for sustainable policy and practice leadership. There are only six members of this subcommittee . . . CEQ, the Federal Environmental Executive, OMB, EPA, Department of Energy, and GSA.

I’m not trying to do all this at GSA by myself. I have a working group, which meets monthly, helping me. We also have an internally-focused group, led by OGP.

As you know, I’m sure, the order, signed last January, requires, among many things, that all Federal Agencies ensure that new construction and major renovation projects comply with the guiding principles for federal leadership in high performance and sustainable buildings.  These principles require agencies to:

  • Employ integrated design principles,
  • Optimize energy performance,
  • Protect and conserve water,
  • Enhance indoor environmental quality, and
  • Reduce environmental impact of materials.

GSA’s job is to help our client agencies meet their environmental obligations by providing responsible choices by means of our services and offerings. Falling under this umbrella are:

  • The construction and leasing of energy-efficient, sustainable design buildings;
  • The procurement of renewable utility services;
  • Environmentally friendly telework and other alternative workplace arrangements;
  • A selection of the latest fuel vehicles (afv’s);
  • And a wide range of environmentally preferable office products.

Integrating Sustainable Design

Energy efficiency and environmentally beneficial practices have been part of GSA’s repertoire for years.  The new and exciting piece is the concept of sustainable design, which enables a more comprehensive approach to addressing these issues.

Some of you may remember OGP’s pioneering efforts to raise the level of sustainability-awareness with our William Mcdonough-Ray Anderson (and others) seminar in June 2000, along with our sustainable development guide. We followed those up with two videos: “highlights of William Mcdonough’s speech” and “the journey to sustainability: a conversation with Ray Anderson.”

The terms “sustainable design” or “green building” refer to facilities that are located, designed, built and operated to consider impacts on the natural environment and the sustainability of the environment, use natural resources efficiently, improve building performance, and address the health and comfort of building occupants.

Sustainability in building design, construction and operation is fundamental to the core mission of GSA’s public buildings service to provide a world-class workplace for the federal worker and superior value for the American taxpayer.

Beginning in 1999, GSA embarked on a comprehensive strategy to incorporate sustainable design requirements into our standard business process.  Sustainable design clauses are included in the facilities standards for PBS (this is the design guide for all GSA construction), the design excellence program guide (which guides selection of architects and engineers), standardized scopes of work (for a/e’s, feasibilitiy studies, and commissioning), and our solicitation for offers for leased space.

Among the benefits of sustainable design are reduced operating costs, reduced waste, conservation of natural resources, positive community relationships, increased building value, increased occupant productivity, and increased occupant satisfaction.

Let me share a few examples of GSA green buildings:

  • The Alfred A. Arraj U.S Courthouse in Denver has over 100 sustainable design strategies, including evaporative cooling, high performance glazing and underfloor air distribution.
  • The Federal Office building in Oklahoma City has an underfloor air distribution system to provide flexibility and reduce future churn costs.  It also has light shelves and high ceilings that help direct daylight deep into the work environment.
  • The NOAA Satellite Operations Center in Suitland, Maryland has the largest green roof on the eastern seaboard. 
  • The Federal Building in San Francisco is the first naturally ventilated high rise building in the u.s.  It features an 18-story tower that is only 65 feet wide to allow access to daylight and views for all building tenants.

Most know that GSA uses the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System developed by the U.S. Green Building Council to evaluate and measure our achievements in sustainable design.

GSA has earned a LEED rating for 19 buildings to date:  nine are government-owned buildings; 10 are build-to-suit leased buildings.  Of these, five have achieved “silver,” and eight achieved “gold.” 

Examples of GSA green buildings that have achieved a LEED rating include:

  • The EPA Science & Technology Center in Kansas City, a built-to-suit lease that captures rainwater for flushing toilets and irrigating the landscaping.  It achieved a LEED gold® rating.
  • The Nathaniel Young Federal Building and Courthouse in Youngstown, Ohio, was developed on a brownfield site. It’s special because it provides daylight to nearly all occupied spaces.  It won the White House Closing the Circle Award for Sustainable Buildings 2003 and also achieved a LEED rating.
  • The Carl T. Curtis Midwest Regional Headquarters of the National Park Service in Omaha, Nebraska is a build-to-suit lease that features underfloor air distribution throughout, abundant daylighting, native landscaping, waterless urinals, dual flush toilets, and 100% green power purchase.  it received a gold LEED rating.
  • The Scowcroft Building in Ogden, Utah is an historic building redeveloped for the IRS to be a model of adaptive resuse with energy and water efficiency.  It earned a silver LEED rating.

GSA has registered another 70 buildings under the LEED system; upon completion, they’ll be eligible for certification. 

On top of LEED Certification, we’re also in the midst of a study that will ensure that our green buildings are operating at peak performance. 

Twelve buildings are being evaluated, and though we’re pretty confident about the outcome, this is the first time the benefits are actually being measured.  Analyzing GSA building performance will provide insight into design strategies that have been used and offer data to understand the value of the investment we’ve made.  We expect to complete the study by the end of December. 

GSA also plays a major role in promoting sustainable design in the federal community through participation in the Federal Green Building Council and the Interagency Sustainability Working Group.

Procuring Renewable Utility Services to Manage Energy

That leads me to the matter of energy management. GSA is committed to “green energy:”

  • We are a national leader in the purchase and use of renewable power from utility companies. We continue to explore opportunities for installing solar and other on-site generated renewable energy technologies as part of our building design and retrofit programs. You may or may not be aware that we have utility energy savings clauses (UESC’s) available under these contracts. Much like ESPC’s, you and other agencies can tap those contracts.
  • In 2006, 4.5 percent of our electricity was generated from renewable sources or bought through renewable energy certificates, compared with a national average of 2.3 percent.  We have found more opportunities to buy renewable power at competitive prices as the cost for electricity and natural gas has increased.  However, recent state and local regulatory policies and increasing customer preferences are driving increased demand for renewable power.  If this trend continues without a corresponding increase in renewable supply, price premiums for renewable power may reach or surpass previous historical highs.
  • Over the last four years, GSA has purchased almost 1 million megawatt hours of energy from renewable sources through competitive power contracts and through the use of green power programs offered by local distribution companies.  That’s enough energy to power 77,057 households for a year.  It’s also about the same as 202,112 tons of waste being recycled instead of landfilled.
  • GSA is also incorporating solar and other on-site generated renewable energy technologies in our design and retrofit programs.  In fiscal 2006, GSA used about 3.3 billion BTU’s in energy from self-generated renewable projects. Still admittedly a modest program, that’s enough to power 78 households for a year.  Sources of that energy include:
  • GSA’s 12 solar photovoltaic installations,
  • GSA’s two solar thermal projects, 
  • And one completed geothermal project. 

As Chief Environmental Official, I’m proud that GSA not only helps other agencies meet their environmental goals; we also make a concerted effort to lead by example.  For instance, 

  • Between 1985 and 2005, GSA achieved the 30 percent reduction in energy consumption target set by the 1992 energy policy act.
  • We operate our buildings at costs that are 5 percent below comparable buildings in the private sector.
  • We pay 12 percent less for utilities.  By the end of fiscal 2006, GSA reduced the overall energy consumption of its inventory by 4.7 percent compared to 2003. 
  • Of the energy used in buildings today, nearly 30 percent is consumed for lighting and office equipment. During the early 1990’s, we extensively retrofitted existing buildings with new energy efficient lighting systems. We met our early goal of 20 percent energy reduction between 1985 and 2000 primarily through these retrofits.

So Where is This All Headed? Here’s a Glimpse of the Future:

  • As energy use generally peaks in the late afternoon, we try to quickly reduce the major consumer of electricity in our buildings: lights.  We’re looking at sophisticated systems that reduce illumination levels significantly enough to reduce total building demand and still leave plenty of light for folks to do their work.
  • The energy policy act directs us to install advanced metering.  We’ll be doing that over the next few years, conditional on funding.  We started installing advanced meters in D.C. and New York.  In the long run, advanced meters will save money by allowing us to manage power consumption more strategically.
  • GSA is also exploring ways to reduce our dependence on the existing energy grid.  Combined heat and power systems can be a source of both energy security and savings.  The Food and Drug Administration Office in White Oak, Maryland is a great case study.  Using an energy saving performance contract to install a heating plant facility as part of the first phase of the campus build-out, we saved more than $1.4 million annually in energy costs and $2.1 million in annual operation and maintenance costs (FY 2003 data).  The plant provides reliable, uninterrupted on-site electric generation capability for three facilities on campus—a laboratory, an office building and a multi-use facility.  Heat is recovered from the generating process to produce hot water and in the absorption process to produce chilled water for air conditioning. 

I’m hopeful that the future will also bring us techniques such as the use of hydrogen fuel cells that will actually enable a building to put more energy into the grid than it takes out.


Telework and Other Alternative Workplace Arrangements

it shouldn’t come as any surprise that GSA leads the development of alternative workplace arrangements for the federal community.  As a long-time innovator and leader in telework, GSA supports OPM’s lead role to implement the October 2000 law that requires each agency to establish a policy under which eligible employees may telework. Our goal is broad participation without diminished employee performance.  The law requires that this policy be applied to 25 percent of the federal workforce each year until all employees are offered the opportunity to telework.

Federal employees can now work away from the traditional worksite thanks to modern advances in technology.  They can work anytime or anywhere, and conserve energy.  All they need is a computer, high speed internet, and a phone, provided there is proper security protection.

Administrator Doan is a strong believer in telework and is on a constant lookout for ways to increase participation.

In 2005, there were 140,694 teleworkers in the federal government -- 19 percent of the telework-eligible workforce and 7.7 percent of the total workforce.

Federal employees now have the option of working from home or from one of GSA’s telework centers.  The centers, in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, were established to provide a full range of workplace services so employees can do productive work away from the conventional office.  The centers are equipped with computers and telephone services, fax and copier machines, meeting rooms, and onsite technical assistance staff.

Looking at 2005 data, GSA found that its 14 telework centers saved commuters from traveling nearly 2.8 million miles, which, in turn, saved almost 115 thousand gallons of fuel.  In addition, 2.3 million pounds of emissions were kept from being released into our atmosphere. 

Home telework is even more important as FAS & PBS include it in their routine planning and consultation with our client agencies to conserve energy by occupying less space and using less electricity and lighting in their buildings.

The benefits of telework should be obvious: it saves taxpayer dollars; reduces energy use; cuts down on greenhouse gases; eases traffic; reduces our dependence on oil and even increases worker productivity.  Teleworking also provides government agencies and private companies with an emergency plan to remotely continue business operations in the event of a national disaster or terrorist attack.

GSA will continue to work with its customers to promote telework and alternative workplace programs.

Transportation Management

We’re also taking the lead in helping federal agencies comply with the President’s Executive Order regarding transportation.

GSA helps federal agencies reduce petroleum consumption by offering alternative fuel vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles for lease and purchase.  With our assistance, these agencies have worked hard to meet federal energy efficiency requirements and now have 131,112 alternatively fueled vehicles on the road.  GSA has purchased over 140,000 afvs from manufacturers for our federal customers.

GSA’s internal fleet numbers continue to decline in response to efforts to precisely align the number and type of vehicles necessary to achieve our mission.   The GSA fleet currently stands at 1,190 vehicles compared to 1,224 in 2005, and 26 percent of our vehicles are compact or subcompact sedans.  We’ve improved our average fuel economy from 17.6 mpg in 2005 to 23.5 mpg in 2006.  That’s a 33.5 percent improvement.  Our cost per mile of 43 cents is 39 percent below the Governmentwide average of 71 cents.

We continue to increase the number of afvs in our fleet (57 percent of acquisitions versus a governmentwide average of 29 percent).

Environmentally Preferable Office Products

GSA’s mission also includes helping our client agencies meet their environmental obligations by providing them a wide range of environmentally preferable office and other products.  through the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS), our Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) offer a list of businesses approved to sell federal agencies everything from environmental assessments and energy management programs to recycled paper, energy-efficient lighting, paints, chemicals, and pollution-prevention systems.

Please take a few moments to learn more about GSA’s environmental resources by visiting:  www.gsa.gov/green.
 
To sum it up, my message today is that “going green” is a top priority for Administrator Doan, myself and all of us at GSA.  Whether it’s green roofs, self-generated renewable projects, or alternative fueled vehicles, GSA is fully committed to the goals of the president’s executive order and to helping our client agencies meet their environmental goals.

Thank you very much.