WASHINGTON – As Americans celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day and in recognition of the federal government’s continuing commitment to saving energy and taxpayers’ money, Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) along with Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO), and Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL) introduced legislation today to ensure that federal employees who operate and maintain our federal facilities have the training and resources they need to safeguard our nation’s significant investment in energy efficient buildings.
The Federal Buildings Personnel Training Act of 2010 will require the General Services Administration (GSA), commonly referred to as the government’s “landlord”, to identify competencies that federal buildings personnel should possess and require that they demonstrate them. GSA will work with private industry and institutions of higher learning to create comprehensive continuing education courses to ensure that federal employees have the training to maintain Federal buildings in a manner consistent with industry best practices.
“The Federal Buildings Personnel Training Act of 2010, which I am introducing today along with Senator Collins, and Representatives Carnahan and Biggert in the House, will ensure that the General Services Administration has all of the tools necessary to not only upgrade our infrastructure, but also guarantee that these buildings are properly maintained and operated at their highest performance levels,” said Sen. Carper (D-DE). “You wouldn’t give a race car to an inexperienced driver and expect them to win the Indy 500. In the same way, we can’t expect our federal buildings to run at peak efficiency if we don’t make sure our personnel have adequate training.”
“The federal government is the world’s largest institutional user of energy and the largest single owner of facilities. In terms of energy use, the federal government consumes 1.6 percent of the nation’s total energy–about $17.5 billion in annual energy costs,” said Sen. Collins (R-ME). “Targeted training will enable us to stress core competencies such as building operations and maintenance, energy management, safety and design functions. Right now, the General Services Administration says that contractors, who operate 97 percent of federal facility management, lack qualified, well-trained people to manage the buildings in the most effective manner. The result is a decline in the expected lifecycle of federal buildings and equipment. We need to ensure that we have the best trained, most qualified workforce operating this vast portfolio of federal assets, totaling more than 500,000 buildings, structures and associated infrastructure worldwide. Training is vital to helping guarantee that taxpayer dollars – used to operate and invest in these facilities – are being spent as efficiently and effectively as possible.”
“Sustainability and energy conservation isn’t just about the air we breathe or the water we drink. It’s about saving money for families, businesses and taxpayers,” said Rep. Carnahan (D-MO), author of the legislation and co-chair of the Congressional High-Performance Building Caucus. “If we’re going to be responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars, in addition to investing in energy efficient buildings we must invest in the people maintaining those buildings so that we recoup the largest energy and cost savings possibly.”
“This is an opportunity to lead by example, and demonstrate the immense savings and efficiency that can be achieved by making smart investments in human energy,” said Rep. Biggert (R-IL), co-chair of the Congressional High-Performance Building Caucus. “America’s scientists and engineers are making rapid strides in sustainable building technologies and designs, but the full rewards of their work – both to the environment and to taxpayers – cannot be realized unless our building managers have the training to utilize them. The Federal Buildings Personnel Training Act will put federal buildings on the leading edge of energy savings, and it will help build expertise among America’s workforce needed for tomorrow’s green jobs.”
Joining Sens. Carper, Collins, and Reps. Carnahan and Biggert in supporting the legislation are a diverse group of organizations including the Partnership for Public Service, the U.S. Green Building Council, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), and the International Facility Management Association.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included a substantial investment of $5.5 billion apportioned to the GSA to upgrade its facilities. Late last year, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found a lack of proper expertise and training was a major challenge for the federal government in reaching its energy reduction goals (GAO-10-22). A recent study by the International Facilities Management Association showed that for every $1 spent on facility management training, organizations reported receiving an average of $3.95 in return.
The Federal Government is the single largest energy user in the nation. In fiscal year 2008, the total energy consumption of Federal Government buildings and operations was roughly 1.5 percent of all energy consumption in the U.S. The energy bill for the Federal Government that year was $24.5 billion or about 0.8 percent of total Federal expenditures. Of that $24.5 billion, over $7 billion was spent on energy to operate Federal buildings alone.
In addition, Sen. Carper also introduced the Improving Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Use By Federal Agencies Act of 2010, a comprehensive package of proposals to strengthen federal energy management efforts and save taxpayers’ money.
“Federal agencies are pursuing many ideas and technologies to reduce the amount of energy they consume, and adopt renewable energy such as solar panels on top of federal buildings. These proven technologies have resulted in financial savings that have more than paid for the initial financial investment. This is in addition to the environmental and energy security benefits of reduced energy use,” said Sen. Carper.
The legislation includes proposals to improve accountability and transparency by publishing federal energy consumption data for individual facilities on a searchable website; extend the duration of Power Purchase Agreements to agencies in addition to the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs; and establish a $500 million revolving fund to provide financial support for federal agency energy efficiency and renewable projects, such as new federal building heating and cooling systems.