By Eric Bowles
Government Leads Green Movement
By Adopting 2030 Challenge Goals
THE DRIVE TO REDUCE THE COUNTRY’S RELIANCE
on fossil fuels took a huge leap forward with the passage of
the Federal Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA)
in late December. Tucked away in the new law is Section
433, a provision that has the potential to reverse global
warming more than merely reducing gasoline consumption.
This section requires the design of all federal buildings
to meet the energy performance standards outlined in the
“2030 Challenge,” a design industry initiative that envisions all buildings becoming carbon neutral by the year
2030. This is important when you consider that 40% of
total energy usage occurs in buildings. In big cities that
lack huge industrial operations, like New York City and
San Francisco, almost 80% of energy is expended in
commercial and residential structures. There is no deny-
Federal buildings have reduced their energy
intensity by 23% and cut carbon emissions
by 2. 8 million metric tons since 1985.
ing cars are a problem, but buildings are a much bigger
one when it comes to carbon emissions.
In 2002, architect Ed Mazria put forth the 2030
Challenge as a path to energy independence in buildings.
Additionally, he proposed metrics and incremental goals
that can lead to energy savings in the construction and
operation of commercial properties. Under the new legislation, the goal for federal buildings is to reduce fossil
fuel-generated energy consumption from 2003 levels to
the tune of 55% in 2010, 65% in 2015, 80% in 2020,
90% in 2025 and 100% in 2030.
With current technology and smart design changes,
those cutbacks can be readily achieved and, when integrated into the building design, will more than pay for
themselves over the lifecycle of a building. Future benchmarks may well require new technologies and methods
that have yet to be tested. But for now, the huge reduction
in energy consumption in the early years of the challenge
is well within design and construction capabilities.
It is important to recognize, however, that embracing
the energy reductions of EISA is a substantial undertaking
for the nation’s biggest landlord. According to a report by
the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive, the federal government owns and leases more than 505,000
buildings covering nearly 3. 9 billion sf.
The groundswell for green architecture has been growing
in the public and private sectors for some time. Close to 100
million sf of LEED-certified space had been constructed by
mid-2007, and at the beginning of 2008 more than 8,000
commercial projects were seeking certification. The federal
government is also making headway, with 542 buildings
registered for LEED, according to the OFEE. Total primary
energy consumption in 2006 was 18.2% less than it was in
1985 and 5.8% lower than in 2005. The total site-delivered
energy consumption in 2006 was 26.9% less than that in
1985 and 7.8% below the 2005 level. Government-owned
buildings account for 0.4% of the nation’s energy usage and
emit about 2% of all building-related greenhouse gases.
Further, the US General Services Administration is one of
nine federal agencies that requires all new construction and
substantial renovations to be certified through the LEED
green building rating system. The GSA currently manages
public buildings with more than 352 million sf of workspace
for 1. 1 million federal employees in 2,200 communities.
Overall, federal buildings have reduced their energy
intensity by 23% and cut carbon emissions by 2. 8 million
metric tons since 1985, according to the OFEE. This is
equivalent to removing 2. 1 million vehicles from the road
in one year. GSA buildings have reduced their energy
intensity by 30% since 1985.
Property managers now have the opportunity to demonstrate that reducing energy usage and our carbon footprint
can pay off, not only for the environment, but also for building owners through reduced lifecycle costs. The federal
government has taken a strong stance with the adoption of
the goals of the 2030 Challenge. It’s a move that the commercial real estate industry should emulate. ◆
The views expressed in this article are those of the author
and not Real Estate Media or its publications.
Eric Bowles is vice president of CoreNet Global. He may be
contacted at email@example.com. Stan Kaczmarczyk,
principal deputy associate administrator for the US GSA’s office
of government-wide policy, contributed to this article. He may
be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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