How GSA Plans to Save $3 Million in Energy Costs

The agency is using public-private partnerships to finance green construction projects.

The General Services Administration is spearheading several green initiatives to boost sustainability across federal buildings, including a new Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC) that is expected to produce nearly $3 million in savings in the first year of operation.

The projects stem from President Barack Obama’s goal of implementing $2 billion in energy efficiency upgrades at federal buildings over the next three years, according to the agency.

The GSA is partnering with energy services firm Ameresco to install energy-reduction retrofits and on-site renewable energy at the IRS New Carrollton Financial Service Center and the Silver Spring Metro Center 1 building in Maryland. Upgrades will include new LED lighting fixtures, sensors to adjust light output, an energy-efficient chilled water plant, solar canopies and a solar thermal heating systems.

GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini announced the public-private partnership last week at the SmartAmerica Expo in Washington, D.C., saying that combined, the upgrades at the two facilities will reduce energy usage by 60 percent and enable them to generate more than 10 percent of their own energy. That’s in addition to a 56 percent decrease in water usage and an annual reduction of more than 20,000 tons of green house gas emissions.

The New Carrollton facility is one of two ESPC projects in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

Managing the government’s largest ESPC

ESPCs allow agencies to finance large energy-savings projects without paying up-front costs. Instead, agencies strike agreements with energy services companies to purchase and install the upgrades. Agencies must agree to pay companies a portion of the savings from the energy improvements.

GSA is expanding its work on a $195 million ESPC, dubbed the largest contract of its kind in the federal government. The contract includes construction of a central utility plant that will meet the heating, cooling and energy requirements of a 1.2-million-square-foot expansion of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, according to GSA. The plant will produce up to 250,000 megawatts-hours of electricity a year, which is enough energy to power more than 23,000 homes.

In total, GSA plans to retrofit 50 buildings across the country, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives building, the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters, and the William Jefferson Clinton building.

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Jun 23 2014