GSA weighs in on the White House’s $4 billion energy efficiency program for buildings
The federal General Services Administration’s top official has sounded off on the latest Better Building Initiative (BBI) news.
In February, President Obama announced the creation of the BBI as part of his administration’s vision for catalyzing a homegrown, clean energy economy in the United States. The BBI consists of administrative actions, a challenge to the private sector, and legislative proposals.
Earlier this month, the president announced nearly $4 billion in combined federal and private sector energy upgrades to buildings over the next two years. The investments will save money in energy costs, promote energy independence, and, according to some estimates, create tens of thousands of jobs in the hard-hit construction sector.
The $4 billion investment includes a $2 billion commitment, made through the issuance of a Presidential Memorandum, to energy upgrades of federal buildings using long-term energy savings to pay for up-front costs.
The memorandum directs all federal agencies to maximize existing authorities to use performance-based contracting for undertaking energy retrofits on federal buildings. The Presidential Memorandum directs federal agencies to enter into a minimum of $2 billion in performance-based contracts over the next two years.
Performance-based contracting enables financing building upgrade projects by relying on long-term energy savings to pay for upfront costs. The approach uses Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPCs) wherein Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) and utility companies conduct energy upgrades of federal buildings and guarantee savings from the improvements.
U.S. General Services Administrator Martha Johnson said the president’s building initiative will improve the energy efficiency of the federal building portfolio. She said the initiative “is a triple win for our country — it will create tens of thousands of jobs, save energy and pay for itself.”
Johnson said that her agency has extensive experience with ESPCs. “Since 1992, nearly $300 million has been invested through ESPCs to improve the efficiency of federal buildings. In fact, we recently challenged energy service companies to bring creative solutions and innovative technologies to the table, which will allow agencies to maximize their investment and achieve the greatest energy savings.”
Johnson said GSA is looking forward to reviewing its entire building portfolio — comprised of nearly 180 million square feet of space in over 1,500 owned buildings — to determine how the agency can best use ESPCs to increase energy efficiency.