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Green Proving Ground: Smart Temperature Control Optimizes Comfort and Saves Energy

| Kevin Powell, Green Proving Ground Program Director
Post filed in: Earth Week  |  Green Proving Ground  |  Public Buildings Service  |  Sustainability

The U.S. General Services Administration’s (GSA) Green Proving Ground (GPG) program leverages GSA’s real estate portfolio to test innovative building technologies that save energy and provide recommendations on their deployment. The program helps GSA meet its sustainability goals with data that informs investment decisions targeted at reducing energy and water use.

This past winter, GPG made the results for its socially driven HVAC optimization evaluation public. Socially driven HVAC is smart temperature control that dynamically adjust for occupant comfort while saving energy. While traditional HVAC systems in commercial buildings are designed to maintain a set temperature range regardless of occupancy or space usage, this innovative energy management system accepts direct inputs of “too hot” or “too cold” from tenants via a mobile or web application. Over time, the system identifies trends for each specific space, and either fine tunes the temperature settings to personal preferences, or adjusts the temperature to a more energy-saving setting when heating or cooling is not requested. GPG evaluated the performance of socially driven HVAC at the Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Phoenix, and found it to increase tenant satisfaction with workplace thermal comfort by 83 percent—while delivering average energy savings of 20 percent (cooling) and 47 percent  (heating).

To continue and expand support for innovative building technologies like socially driven HVAC, GPG and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) High Impact Technology (HIT) Catalyst issued a Request for Information (RFI) last year to identify and evaluate new sustainable technologies in five technology areas: smart energy analytics, window attachments, fans and blowers, renewable energy, and water conservation and reuse. DOE calculates these technologies have a total national energy savings opportunity of up to 2 quadrillion British thermal units.  Since then the release of the RFI,  GSA and DOE have reviewed and evaluated over sixty applications for innovative technologies that promise to improve commercial building performance across the nation. GPG and HIT programs are currently beginning to identify potential host sites in both federal and private sector buildings, and plan to announce the technologies selected for real-world demonstration this fall—stay tuned!

Find out more about this and other GPG activities at, and hear the story from DOE at

Editor’s Note: As steward to over 1500 Federal buildings — including many irreplaceable historic buildings in low-lying and other at-risk areas — the U.S. General Services Administration is sensitive to the threat of climate change. Fortunately, as the government’s leading supplier of utilities, buildings, and vehicles GSA also has opportunities to protect our environment.This week, to celebrate Earth Day 2016, we will be highlighting GSA’s efforts to combat climate change and protect our planet.