Sustainability blog

Ten Ways GSA is Making Progress Towards Sustainability Goals

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In 2022, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) took major strides toward helping the federal government lead by example and leverage its buying power and building footprint to combat climate change and create clean energy jobs.

GSA is working to rapidly decarbonize our building portfolio through energy efficiency, electrification, carbon pollution-free electricity, and lower embodied carbon materials. As a provider of fleet vehicles and services, GSA is working to make electric vehicles and charging equipment as convenient and cost effective as possible. As a procurement services provider, GSA is building sustainability into its contract vehicles to increase resiliency in the federal supply chain, while minimizing environmental impacts including associated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. 

The Inflation Reduction Act will help build on this momentum with $3.4 billion to help GSA make our federal buildings more sustainable, higher performing, and more cost-efficient through next generation technologies and low-embodied carbon materials. The first round of these investments were announced today. This will accelerate efforts to achieve a net zero federal footprint, catalyze American innovation and save taxpayers millions in energy costs. 

Here are ten ways GSA is working to tackle climate change in ways that benefit people and the planet alike:

  1. US Government’s First Initiative with a Utility to Work Toward 24/7 Carbon Pollution-Free Electricity
    GSA announced the federal government’s first Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a utility to work toward achieving 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity (CFE), at least 50 percent of which would be provided on a 24/7 basis. These initiatives align with the requirements of Executive Order 14057, which sets a goal of sourcing 100 percent of the federal government’s electricity from carbon pollution-free sources by 2030.
     
  2. Leveraging Historic Climate Investments to Accelerate the Transition to Net Zero

GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan spoke at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo on Nov. 3, and announced the agency’s commitment to ensuring that GSA’s Inflation Reduction Act funding will not be used to install any equipment that burns fossil fuels. The Inflation Reduction Act provides a boost to GSA’s efforts to decarbonize its real estate portfolio—which will ultimately help reduce emissions and accelerate the adoption of emerging technologies. The law provides $2.15 billion for low-embodied carbon materials in construction projects, $975 million to support emerging and sustainable technologies, and $250 million for measures to convert federal facilities into High-Performance Green Buildings.

  1. Net-Zero Emissions Buildings: Electrification and Carbon Pollution-Free Electricity
    GSA is currently building a new U.S. Courthouse in Des Moines that will run on 100 percent electricity on all but the coldest winter days. Running on electricity instead of fossil fuels will help achieve a net-zero emission federal building portfolio by 2045— and will capitalize on the region’s supply of clean and inexpensive wind power. To achieve LEED Gold certification, the project will include a highly reflective cool roof, insulated window glazing, LED lighting, occupancy sensors, dimmable light fixtures, and daylight harvesting.
     
  2. Net-Zero Emissions Building, with Reduced Embodied Carbon via Adaptive Reuse
    GSA is modernizing a 150,000-square-foot warehouse in Denver that will allow the Department of the Interior to shed three large private market leases, and consolidate tenants into a single federally owned asset, saving taxpayers nearly $6 million annually. Reactivating this building will minimize embodied carbon emissions from materials compared to constructing a new building, and the new facility will be designed and operated for net zero energy and net zero carbon. To achieve LEED Gold and SITES Silver certification, the project will introduce plenty of natural daylight into the creation of a highly efficient, modern work environment, saving energy while promoting healthy circadian (daily sleep-wake) rhythms for occupants.
     
  3. New Concrete and Asphalt Standards
    GSA received over 130 responses to its February 2022 requests for information on the availability, cost, and workability of low-embodied carbon concrete and environmentally preferable asphalt. These responses came from both small and large firms, and were used to shape GSA’s recent issuance of the nation’s first concrete and asphalt sustainability standards to apply beyond a single state or county. To date, GSA has completed seven Bipartisan Infrastructure Law-funded paving projects using the new asphalt standards, all of which were awarded to and completed by small or disadvantaged businesses.
     
  4. Zero-Emission Vehicle Procurement
    GSA’s Fleet Program is accelerating federal agency progress toward acquiring 100 percent zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) by 2035 and 100 percent light-duty ZEVs by 2027. GSA offered 65 different ZEV models and options in varying vehicle classes in FY 2022, up from just 13 at the beginning of FY 2021. GSA facilitated 3,567 ZEV orders in FY 2022, more than five times the quantity purchased the prior year. Since October 1, 2022, federal agencies have already purchased over 2,300 ZEVs.
     
  5. ZEV Charging Infrastructure
    To support federal zero-emission vehicle acquisition and operation, GSA created a complete solution for agencies to acquire and install supporting ZEV infrastructure. GSA established governmentwide EVSE blanket purchase agreements (BPAs) and design/Build and construction IDIQ contracts for EVSE installation and related infrastructure. These solutions provide agencies a one-stop shop for supporting the transition of the federal fleet to a 100 percent zero-emission vehicle fleet. GSA also launched demonstration projects called Applied Innovation Learning Laboratories at the Denver Federal Center in Colorado and the Bean Federal Center in Indiana.
     
  6. Simplifying Sustainable, Climate Ready Procurement
    GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service is simplifying sustainable procurement and making its supply chain climate-ready by reducing the GHG footprint and climate risks in its governmentwide acquisition vehicles. For most major new contract awards, FAS requires contractors to disclose their GHG emissions, set reduction targets and report on progress during contract performance, as well as to report on and address climate risks. For the Multiple Award Schedules, GSA has invited contractors with high sales to disclose their GHG emissions and climate risks to CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project).
     
  7. Incorporating Environmental Justice
    GSA is working to promote sustainable and equitable locations for federal facilities to strengthen the vitality and livability of the communities in which they are located. GSA’s Public Buildings Service is taking a proactive approach to engaging with the communities and governments to align our project activities with local priorities, opportunities and goals. In March 2022, GSA reconvened its Environmental Justice Working Group. The agency is also adding an environmental justice expert to its Green Building Advisory Committee.
     
  8. Managing Climate Risks
    Over the past year, GSA has worked internally across the agency and hand in hand with our agency partners to both assess and manage climate risks. For example, GSA has: integrated climate risk into the long-term real property, acquisition, and digital objectives of GSA’s latest strategic plan to reduce future climate-related financial risks; required contractors to submit climate risk management plans, and say how they plan to address identified risks; and conducted climate literacy training with the offices implementing our climate change risk management plan.

Learn more about GSA’s role in advancing the Biden-Harris Administration’s climate priorities: gsa.gov/sustainability-priorities.

Last Reviewed: 2022-12-19