Page E1.3. 03 March 2010                     
ArchitectureWeek - Environment Department
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GSA's Green Office Buildings


Ten years ago, we might have installed a lighting system that used 1.5 or 2 watts per square foot (16 to 22 watts per square meter), but today it should be less than half that amount. We are using light-emitting diodes (LEDs) for lighting in certain locations; this is also an emerging technology. We are accelerating its adoption with the Recovery Act funding.

Finally, building controls and advanced or "smart" meters are a key component of every project we are undertaking, consistent with EPACT 05. Smart meters provide far more sophisticated data. By using these data, connecting smart meters with building automation systems and creating operating models for the building, the resulting control system and procedures not only reduce energy through the use of smart meter data, but also provide us the means to track usage and make sure that energy savings persist.

GSA's use of Recovery Act funds to implement emerging technologies leads to the creation of green jobs in building operations. GSA has discovered that most building operators in the government and private sector complain that they are unable to find enough well-trained people to run high-performance buildings and keep them running in a high-performance mode. Buildings that are tuned up, commissioned and operating well can easily slip into poorer performance without proper maintenance. The aggregate result is a significant degradation of performance and an unnecessary increase in energy consumption.

GSA is already in conversations with the Building Owners and Managers Association, with the International Facility Managers Association and others about the apparent shortage of sufficiently trained building operators. We believe that GSA's Recovery Act projects can potentially provide jobs along this emerging career pathway.

Recovery and Reinvestment Act

The funds Congress has provided to the GSA through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are a sound investment in several respects.

First, the timely obligation of these recovery funds will stimulate job growth in the green construction and real estate sectors.

Second, the money will help the GSA reduce energy consumption and improve the environmental performance of our inventory.

Third, the funds, in large part, will be invested in the existing infrastructure, which will help reduce our backlog of repair and alteration needs, thus increasing the assets' value, prolonging their useful life, and ultimately further conserving our country's resources.

Finally, these funds will be invested in government-owned assets for the long-term requirements of our federal customers.

Kevin Kampschroer, a veteran official of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and a leader in the sustainability movement, was named the permanent director of the Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings in February 2010 after serving as acting head of the office since it was established by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. He has been leading GSA's activities in response to the 2005 and 2007 Energy Bills and Executive Order on the Environment, Sustainability, and Energy Conservation. The Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings has recently moved from the Public Buildings Service to GSA's Office of Governmentwide Policy.

This article is an excerpt of testimony given by Kevin Kampschroer before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management, on July 16, 2009.


K.M. Fowler et al., "Assessing Green Building Performance: A post-occupancy evaluation of 12 GSA Buildings," U.S. General Services Administration, July 2008, white paper (PDF). Based on: K.M. Fowler and E.M. Rauch, "Assessing Green Building Performance: A post-occupancy evaluation of 12 GSA Buildings," PNNL-17393, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA, March 2008 (PDF). Available on the GSA web site.

Lisa Fay Mathiesson and Peter Morris, "The Cost of Green Revisited: Reexamining the Feasibility and Cost Impact of Sustainable Design in the Light of Increased Market Adoption," Davis Langdon, July 2007 (PDF).


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Daylight from skylights illuminates adjacent walls in the Morse Courthouse.
Photo: Kevin Matthews/ Artifice Images

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The Nathaniel R. Jones Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Youngstown, Ohio, designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, earned its LEED certification thanks to strategies such as the use of drought-resistant plants and the use of a significant percentage of locally manufactured building materials (over 62%).
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The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Science and Technology Facility in Golden, Colorado, was designed by SmithGroup and is owned by the U.S. Department of Energy.
Photo: Bill Timmerman/ Courtesy SmithGroup Extra Large Image

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Daylight from clerestory windows reflects off a curved ceiling in the office spaces of the NREL Science and Technology Facility. The building received a LEED Platinum certification.
Photo: Bill Timmerman/ Courtesy SmithGroup Extra Large Image

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Wayne L. Morse U.S. Courthouse third-floor plan drawing.
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NREL Science and Technology Facility ground-floor plan drawing.
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Exploded axonometric drawing of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) Research Station in Bocas del Toro, Panama.
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The STRI Bocas del Toro Research Station collects rainwater, generates energy, and treats waste in an attempt to have a "net-zero" environmental impact.
Photo: Kiss + Cathcart, Architects Extra Large Image

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Kiss + Cathcart Architects designed the STRI Bocas del Toro Research Station using a double-envelope strategy to achieve thermal regulation of interior spaces.
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The EPA Region 7 Headquarters in Kansas City, Kansas, designed by Langdon Wilson, features a central atrium covered in a curving glass-and-photovoltaic roof.
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