WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del), ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, highlighted a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that surveyed green building efforts across the federal government. Agencies surveyed reported that programs like the Department of Energy’s Federal Energy Management Program, the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, the General Services Administration’s Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings, and other third party certification systems help agencies meet key green building requirements and reduce the costs of compliance. However, many agencies noted that they still face a number of challenges in making their properties more sustainable and energy efficient.
The federal government is the nation’s single largest energy consumer, spending about $7 billion to provide energy to over 275,000 federally-owned or leased buildings in fiscal year 2014. Federal law and policies mandate that federal agencies implement sustainable practices when designing, constructing, operating, and maintaining buildings to use resources efficiently, reduce environmental impacts, and provide long-term financial and health benefits.
“As the country’s largest property owner and energy user, it is critical that the federal government does what it can to become more energy efficient,” Sen. Carper said. “By making the buildings we own more sustainable and energy-efficient, we can help shrink our carbon footprint, help ease the enormous budgetary pressures facing our federal government, and save taxpayers billions of dollars – something I like to call a win-win-win. Earlier this year, the Administration outlined an ambitious commitment to improve energy efficiency, declaring to the nation and the world that the United States is serious about curbing harmful emissions and its federal government is ready to lead by example. Today’s assessment from the Government Accountability Office provides critical insights into agencies’ efforts to follow through on this commitment and what needs to be done to help them meet the President’s goal. I urge the Council on Environmental Quality to review the points raised in this report as it continues to revise the guiding principles for federal green buildings. I look forward to working with the Administration and my colleagues in Congress to ensure that federal agencies have the tools and resources they need to implement this important order and become more sustainable and energy efficient.”
The report comes on the heels of President Obama’s executive order issued earlier this year to boost clean energy use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the federal government by 40 percent from 2008 levels by 2025 – an effort that could save taxpayers up to $18 billion in avoided energy costs and increase the share of electricity the federal government consumes from renewable sources to 30 percent. The executive order also required the Council on Environmental Quality to revise the governing principles of green building requirements by including metrics to measure climate change resilience and employee and visitor wellness.