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Johnson Hails Green Features Planned at New San Ysidro Land Port of Entry

As prepared for delivery 

Remarks by
Martha N. Johnson
Administrator
U.S. General Services Administration
San Ysidro Land Port of Entry Groundbreaking
San Ysidro, Calif.
February 24, 2011

Thank you, Jeff Neely, for your introduction.  

It is a privilege to be here with you today, and let me first say that I bring greetings from the president of the United States.

I’m delighted to be in warm Southern California; it’s a welcome break from the wintry slush that we’ve recently had in D.C.

The U.S. General Services Administration’s mission is to use our expertise to provide innovative solutions for our customers in support of their missions, and by so doing, foster an effective, sustainable, and transparent government for the American people.   

We support the Department of Veterans Affairs so that it can support our veterans.  

We provide infrastructure for the Department of Education so that it can focus on educating tomorrow’s leaders.  

GSA’s customer base is broad.

Our customers range from the federal judiciary to federal agencies to state and local governments, and we’re committed to providing best-value solutions to each of them.

One such solution, and the reason we’re gathered here today, is for U.S. Customs and Border Protection: the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry redevelopment.  

This project epitomizes each aspect of our agency’s mission.

Land ports of entry are complicated projects, synthesizing many different objectives into one multilayered structure.  

They are the outward face of our country, welcoming our friends and families, while serving as the guard posts and gateways of our borders.  

They house people – the CBP agents who work long hours protecting our homeland – yet they must be effective thruways for cars and trucks, both large and small.  

They must be built to accommodate vehicles yet be manageable on a human scale.

Border crossings bridge countries, link nations, and connect far-flung families.

They are the arteries of commerce, the pipelines of tourism, and the first path-marker to those seeking a brighter tomorrow.   

They connect us. They protect us. And they bridge the gaps between us.

San Ysidro is no exception.  

Indeed, as the world’s busiest land port of entry, serving more than 25,000 pedestrians, 50,000 vehicles, and 100,000 people every day, San Ysidro is one of our nation’s most vital assets.  

Twenty percent of the people entering our country pass through these traffic lanes and cross the pedestrian walkways, and the lives and livelihoods of countless thousands depend on the efficient operation of this complex.

And, we can’t just think about the present needs.

In the next two decades, traffic through the San Ysidro land port is expected to increase by as much as 90 percent.  

If wait times at this crossing go up, studies tell us that in the next three years, the region stands to miss out on $9.9 billion in economic output.

The need for a new facility is clear, and the stakes are high.  

That’s why I’m proud that our team of designers, architects, and engineers has partnered so effectively with CBP, and state and local governments – both U.S. and Mexican – to create the design we celebrate today.  

The scope of the project is broad.  

It includes more than 200,000 square feet of building space, dozens of double-stacked lanes for processing traffic, new pedestrian crossings, and highway connection points; and the latest in security and antiterrorism enhancements.  

Yet it isn’t simply the size of the project that’s so impressive; it’s the sterling commitment to sustainability that sets this design team and this project apart.  

The design uses some of the best principles in sustainable construction and architecture, and is projected to receive a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design platinum rating and become the first net-zero energy land port of entry.  

The project’s green features range from the low-tech (using native plants in the landscape) to the high-tech (photovoltaic panels, rainwater reclamation systems, and radiant heating and cooling panels).  

Individually, these features represent the smart use of sustainable design that is becoming the hallmark of federal buildings nationwide.

Collectively, they form a pillar of sustainability, a symbol to the world of our commitment to a low-carbon, high-performance economy for the 21st century.  

The need is great, and the design challenges are significant.  

Yet I am confident that with the team we have assembled and the partnerships we have deepened, the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry will stand as a beacon of the sustainable, high-tech, interconnected, and globalized future that we will leave to our children.

Thank you.