Can Obama’s Plan to Green the Nation’s Federal Buildings Deliver?

Can Obama’s Plan to Green the Nation’s Federal Buildings Deliver?

So far, only five agencies have shown significant progress toward making 15% of their buildings more sustainable by 2015

By Elizabeth McGowan, SolveClimate News

WASHINGTON—The federal government counts so many buildings in its inventory that each of the 482,299 men, women and children who calls Kansas City, Mo., home could have the keys to separate edifices — and there would still be 20,000 buildings to spare. 

Those 502,000 structures that spread across the nation — 445,000 are owned and 57,000 are leased — add up to roughly 3.3 billion square feet of space.

Who knew?

Well, the General Services Administration (GSA), which oversees the business of the federal government, is a treasure trove of such data. And the cost of heating, cooling and lighting all of that square footage provided the momentum to guide yet another government agency — the White House Office of Management and Budget — in the crafting of a seven-part federal sustainability scorecard.

Scorecard results for fiscal year 2010 indicate that the one category where the government is falling short is on greening its half a million buildings. Only five agencies — the Environmental Protection Agency, the Agriculture, State and Treasury departments, and GSA — bare showing significant progress toward making 15 percent of their buildings more sustainable by 2015.

But Steve Goldman, a research and policy specialist at the nonprofit Alliance to Save Energy, said that somewhat paltry progress thus far is no reason for despair.

“Maintaining mission integrity and meeting these goals takes resources and time,” Goldman told SolveClimate News in an interview. “I absolutely don’t believe this is a wild goose chase. There’s never a downside to making facilities more livable and efficient.”

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