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How GSA Benefits the Public

In FY 2011, GSA used its expertise to provide innovative solutions that allow the federal government to conduct its business. GSA provides federal agencies with motor vehicles, office supplies, technology, workplaces, and other goods and services to support their missions in serving the public. While most GSA activities provide behind-the-scenes assistance to the federal government’s interactions with the public, there are also a number of ways that GSA provides direct benefits to the public.


GSA established an ambitious goal of eliminating its impact on the natural environment by creating a zero environmental footprint. The goal is to develop sustainable building design and operations, supply customer agencies with green products, and create sustainable business practices. By using its position as the federal government’s landlord and acquisition expert to test and evaluate developing sustainable technologies and practices, GSA is able to create a more sustainable environment for the American public.

Some examples of GSA sustainability efforts in FY 2011 include:

  • Renovations started on the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry in California, the world’s busiest land port of entry serving more than 100,000 people every day. By installing photovoltaic (PV) panels, a geothermal heat exchange system, solar thermal hot water, rainwater reclamation systems, and other green technologies, San Ysidro will become the first net-zero land port of entry in the country, meaning it will produce as much energy in a year as it consumes. Once completed, this project is designed to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum certification through energy efficiency, water conservation strategies, and an integrated design process.
  • Wayne N. Aspinall building.

    The Wayne N. Aspinall Building in Grand Junction, Colorado.

  • GSA is modernizing the 92-year-old Wayne Aspinall Federal Building and Courthouse into the country’s first net-zero energy usage historic building. GSA will install an energy-saving geothermal heating and cooling system that uses the warmth or cold of the ground to control temperature and a solar panel array that is projected to generate enough energy to balance out the electrical demand of the building. Energy produced in excess of the building’s requirements will be exported to the local electrical grid. The building also will feature state-of-the-art fluorescent light fixtures with wireless controls to adjust lighting in response to natural light levels and storm windows with solar control film to reduce demand on heating and cooling.
  • Many buildings in the GSA portfolio have been recognized for their superior performance, energy efficiency, and green building design. At the end of FY 2011, GSA owned 34 and leased 26 buildings that were LEED certified. More information about GSA sustainable design is available at
  • Chevrolet Volt recharging.

    One of the GSA Electric Pilot Vehicle Program's new Chevrolet Volts recharging its batteries.

  • In an effort to make the federal fleet more sustainable and environmentally friendly, over 80 percent of GSA vehicle purchases in FY 2011 were alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs). GSA purchased 44,121 AFVs valued at over $950 million. Of these 44,121 AFVs, 33,843 were Flex Fuel Vehicles (Ethanol & Biodiesel), 7,566 were Low Greenhouse Gas Emitting Vehicles, 2,539 were Hybrids, and 173 were Electric Vehicles. With these new purchases the GSA fleet was able to achieve a 21 percent MPG improvement, leading to fuel savings of over $2.5 million and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 22,506 metric tons.
  • Ninety-two percent of GSA shipments to its customers went through participating SmartWay Transportation Service Providers. SmartWay is an innovative collaboration between the Environmental Protection Agency and industry to track fuel consumption, improve fuel efficiency, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollution from the transportation supply chain industry. In support of sustainability, GSA became the first federal agency to achieve the industry’s highest ranking SmartWay Transport Partner certification.
  • GSA continued to champion telework in the federal government. GSA employees teleworking reduced emissions associated with commuting to work by over 4,600 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents; the equivalent of reducing gasoline consumption by more than 460,000 gallons. More information about GSA efforts to support telework is available at

More information about GSA sustainability efforts is available at


This past year GSA continued to use the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) to accelerate its efforts to make the federal government more sustainable. This year, GSA completed 12 Recovery Act Projects and started design or construction activity on 83 other projects. Once completed, these projects will help federal buildings reduce water and energy consumption and shift energy usage to renewable sources, while reducing the buildings’ carbon emissions and reliance on carbon-based fuels. These projects have promoted the efficient and effective reinvestment of Recovery Act funds into communities in 50 states, two territories, and the District of Columbia in keeping with the GSA Recovery Act goal of transforming federal buildings into high-performance green buildings.

Several GSA Recovery Act efforts in FY 2011 include:

Vegetative roof.

The new vegetative roof at the Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center.

  • GSA replaced the roofs of three Georgia federal buildings with green vegetative roofs. These roofs will help the buildings absorb rainwater, reduce heat absorption lowering air conditioning costs, and reduce runoff to the sewer system. Additionally, the materials used for this project were environmentally friendly by minimizing or omitting petroleum in their manufacture.
  • In January, GSA started the installation of a geothermal ground source heat pump that will use evacuated tube technology at the Whipple Federal Building in Fort Snelling, Minnesota. It is anticipated this ground source heat pump will provide 100 percent of the building’s heating and cooling requirements. The heat pump will be three to four times more efficient than a conventional centrifugal chilled water plant with cooling tower and gas-fired boiler. Additionally, GSA is installing a PV array and solar water heater system on the roof to subsidize the building’s energy requirements.
  • Solar array on roof.

    The photovoltaic solar array on the roof of the Philadelphia Veterans Administration Center.

  • At the Philadelphia Veterans Administration Center, GSA completed upgrades to the building’s roof that will reduce its energy consumption. The previously ballasted roof was replaced with a new, highly insulated and reflective roof. Additionally, GSA installed 1,937 PV panels that will reduce the building’s energy usage by four percent. The solar panels, insulation, and increased reflectivity of the roof are planned to reduce the building’s annual carbon footprint by 400 metric tons.
  • GSA started the installation of a one megawatt wind turbine at the Land Port of Entry in Pembina, North Dakota. The energy produced will support on-site operations and will provide redundancy with the electric grid. This turbine is estimated to generate a minimum of 1,242,600 kilowatts per year or approximately 72 percent of the border station’s annual electrical needs.

More information about GSA involvement in the Recovery Act is available at

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2011 AFR PDF