Nearly a year after President Obama signed an executive order calling on the federal government to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions 28% by 2020, agencies have outlined plans for achieving those green goals.
The White House Council on Environmental Quality and the Office of Management and Budget reported on Sept. 9 that 56 federal agencies had submitted sustainability performance plans that will serve as frameworks for future sustainability efforts.
Although many of the plans focus on practices such as reducing waste, some of the agencies’ strategies give significant weight to green design and construction goals. For example, the General Services Administration’s plan projects that, by fiscal year 2015, 18% of its owned and leased buildings of 5,000 gross square feet or more will incorporate the sustainable practices laid out by the Obama Administration.
All new GSA buildings are expected to achieve zero-net-energy by fiscal 2030. GSA also plans to design at least half of its historic-building renovations to achieve LEED Gold certification or better by FY 2015.
Andrew Goldberg, the American Institute of Architects’ senior director for federal relations, says the new plans show where the agencies are headed, but adds that how these programs will be funded remains in question. Goldberg notes that although the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act helped GSA meet many of its looming sustainability goals, “the need in terms of backlog is still billions of dollars.”
Michelle Moore, federal environmental executive at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, told ENR she expects that agencies will focus their existing budgets on sustainable projects.
Moore says that consideration of facilities’ life-cycle performance is now a required part of budgetary planning under the executive order, which Obama signed last October. Moore says, “We’re confident that [cost savings] will bear out as we look at the performance of these projects on an annual basis.”