REMARKS FOR ADMINISTRATOR ROBIN CARNAHAN DENVER FEDERAL CENTER TOUR - 4/13/22
Thank you Mayor Paul and Acting Regional Administrator Grout. I also want to recognize Congressman Perlmutter and Governor Polis - thank you for joining us here at the Denver Federal Center. I know you’re proud of what’s being done here and we are too.
Of course, I’m also thrilled to be joined today by my Biden Administration colleague- a true leader in tackling climate change - Gina McCarthy, the White House National Climate Advisor.
We all just got a great tour that shows how investing in sustainability is a triple win: It creates good-paying clean energy jobs that boost our economy and our competitiveness…It reduces energy costs, saving $45 million in taxpayer dollars on this campus alone… And it helps tackle climate change and ensure a healthier future for all of us.
President Biden, Gina, and I all believe that the federal government should be leading by example. That’s why we’re finding opportunities to leverage the government’s scale and buying power to help accelerate these efforts.
GSA has a big role to play since we’re responsible for one of the biggest real estate portfolios in the country with more than 370 million square feet of space, nearly half-a-million vehicles in the federal fleet, and $75 billion in annual contracts.
We want to do our part to ensure a healthy future for our people and our planet. And that means moving away from using fossil fuels in our federal buildings and toward 100% clean energy by 2025. American innovation and hard work can help make that happen - it’s already happening right here at the Denver Federal Center and we intend to scale these same kinds of smart investments across the country.
Today we toured building 48, a World War II era warehouse that's being transformed into a state of the art, light-filled, net-zero-energy, net-zero-carbon, LEED Gold facility for the Department of the Interior. It’s slated to open later next year.
Not only do we expect to see significant cost, energy and emission savings from these upgrades, but since we’ll also be consolidating about 800 federal employees from three leased properties into this federally-owned building, that move will save another $6 million a year for taxpayers.
Second, we saw the largest solar array that GSA oversees in the country. The two solar parks here produce 8 megawatts - that’s the equivalent of power consumed by 1,500 homes - plus there are four buildings and several carports with solar panels on top. Altogether, 22% of this campus is powered by solar - and we have the capacity to double that in the next few years. We’ve already saved more than $45 million dollars as a result of these investments on this campus - reducing energy use, water use, and utility costs by roughly 40% across the board since 2009.
So these are smart investments, but we want to do even more.
For example, GSA just recently issued new standards to reduce the environmental impact of concrete and asphalt used in GSA projects. We’re putting those standards to work.
In fact, the president’s new budget for 2023 includes nearly $100 million to modernize and upgrade Building 56 on this campus to better serve the Department of Agriculture. Half of that money will help us modernize the old HVAC systems, address the structural problems, and renovate about 20,000 square feet. The other half will help with infrastructure around the building, including old water lines, old electrical systems, and - yes - the asphalt and concrete paved surfaces which will incorporate the standards I just mentioned. These investments are not only good for the planet, but great for local businesses and workers. But they’ll only move forward if GSA receives funding from Congress.
We also are using big campuses like this as labs that can test American innovation - we call them our Green Proving Grounds. We’ve done these projects 8 times here on this campus, helping support new innovations such as energy-saving windows, smart pumps, microgrids, and more.
And today, I’m pleased to announce another testbed that will happen here and at other locations around the country - our Applied Innovation Learning Laboratories.
At these hubs, we’ll work with industry and local utilities to test new kinds of clean energy technologies, such as zero-emission vehicle charging infrastructure. We already have 11 EV charging stations on this campus. We’re going to provide space for hands-on testing and demos of new types of charging-station technologies that could be installed and operated anywhere. We’re not starting from scratch - in fact, just last week GSA, the Department of Energy, NREL, and others had a workshop here at DFC to test what’s called bidirectional charging, which allows the vehicle to put power back on the grid at moments of need, such as power outages.
This work is crucial right now, because the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law President Biden signed last year provides billions of dollars for charging stations, much of it going to state and local governments. We want demonstration sites like this to be useful resources about smart and cost effective ways to put that money to good use not just for the federal fleet but also for communities across the country.
There’s never been more alignment across the government about the importance of meeting these sustainability goals and much of the credit for that comes from the vision, passion and outstanding leadership of the White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy. Gina, please tell us more about other ways the Administration is investing in the health of our people and planet, creating good jobs and saving money for taxpayers.