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Greening Government Buildings
GREENandSAVE News — Last Thursday, July 16, 2009, the U.S. Senate held a meeting to discuss the benefits of green buildings, jobs, and legislation. The hearing entitled “Green Buildings Offer Multiple Benefits: Cost Savings, Clean Environment, and Jobs” was conducted by the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management, which analyzed the General Service Administration’s (GSA) progress and future activity in boosting the U.S. green economy.
The GSA owns over 1,500 federal buildings, so its involvement in eco-renovation is key to reducing the government’s carbon footprint and setting a national example. The Subcommittee has made strides in the past, such as the greening of the Capital Complex to include environmentally friendly transportation, energy consumption, security, and maintenance. This meeting will press Federal facilities to utilize an eclectic array of energy saving techniques and devices, such as solar panels, temperature-climate windows, landscaping, compact fluorescent light bulbs, and Energy Star products.
While the GSA deals with servicing green buildings, the Senate will also examine GSA’s green job training to determine the impact of environmental jobs on the economy. In doing this, the Subcommittee will reinvestigate the effects of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) and the American Recovery and Investment Act (Recovery Act). EISA requires energy consumption reductions in most Federal agencies, and GSA uses the guidelines for its own building projects.
The Recovery Act allocated $5.55 billion to the GSA for green construction projects. The GSA initiated the Public Building Service Spending Plan, which funds $4.3 billion to 200 projects across the country. The funding has and will go to making Federal facilities more energy efficient, through meters for electricity, water, and steam; solar panel roofs, heating, ventilation and cooling projects, water conservation retrofits, and various other renovations. The Recovery Act has the most potential to affect job markets, and the Subcommittee will continue to examine how a modernizing economy and legislation will affect GSA and the commercial real estate business.