GSA calling for green technologies to improve building efficiency

The General Services Administration is seeking green technologies to test at, and incorporate into, federal government buildings, according to The Washington Post.

As part of the Green Proving Ground program, the agency said it will use its facilities, accounting for the more than 9,200 buildings it owns and leases, as testing sites. The GSA said it plans to evaluate innovative building technologies as well as energy and water conservation practices. One of its goals is to reduce operational costs, which could be incurred through heating, cooling, ventilation, electricity consumption and other factors.

In addition to GSA federal buildings, technologies used for the program could also make an impact on other government agencies and the real estate industry, according to the GSA.

The government investment in green building technologies could contribute to the net worth of the building industry. This sector, which accounts for both new construction and renovation, makes up over 9 percent of U.S. gross domestic product, according to the Department of Energy. The value of residential and commercial repairs and retrofits was estimated to be around $400 billion in 2005. Improvements that add to the value of the building industry have included commercial lighting retrofits as well as complete renovations.

Green technologies improve energy efficiency

Examples of green technologies chosen by GSA in 2011 include smart windows, occupant responsive lighting and photovoltaics for renewable energy generation. Some of these technologies have also been incorporated in green building programs. This is the case for occupant-controlled lighting, which earns a point toward the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification program developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to advocate and promote energy conservation. The Energy Department said buildings consume more energy than the industrial or transportation sectors, responsible for 40 percent of all energy consumption in the U.S. and 72 percent of all electricity use.

USGBC's LEED program encourages improvements in the energy efficiency of existing and new buildings to reduce impact on the environment and increase resource effectiveness. For LEED procurement in regard to occupant-controlled lighting, buildings must be able to advance the productivity and comfort of its occupants through lighting controls, according to the USGBC.

Companies could consider procurement consulting to purchase products that are more sustainable, such as energy efficient lighting, to ensure corporate responsibility goals are met. Software solutions that measure building energy consumption could also aid in improving the resource efficiency of company operations.

The GSA submission deadline to donate or provide green technologies, via testing agreements, to the federal government for consideration is Dec. 9.

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