Fast-Tracking a Greener Government – Meeting those Mandates

This blog entry was originally posted on http://acronymonline.org by GovLoop member, Caron Beesley

Green buildings, green transportation, green computing, in fact all things green, is a hot trend. In the public sector, “green” isn’t just the ideal – “green” is mandated.

Since the Obama administration moved into the White House, green legislation and “green IT’ directives have been fast-tracked culminating in October 2009 with Executive Order 13514 which, to quote the White House: “…expands the energy reduction and environmental requirements of Executive Order 13423 by making reductions of greenhouse gas emissions a priority of the Federal government, and by requiring agencies to develop sustainability plans focused on cost-effective projects and programs.”

As the largest consumer of energy in the U.S. economy, federal government energy efficiency projects have often been hampered by cumbersome infrastructure, regulatory hairballs, and energy upgrade limitations on buildings oftentimes tied to preservation restrictions.

But times are changing, kick started by the flow of ARRA funds, green infrastructure and transportation projects are getting the green light across the federal and state and local governments. Case in point – the General Services Administration (GSA) is investing $4.4 billion to transform and “green” nearly 400 federal buildings this year alone.

But meeting mandates for greener, more energy efficient government is no mean feat. Here’s a rundown of some of the challenges faced and the technology solutions that can and are being deployed to fast-track a “greener”


1. Designing and Building Greener Buildings

Whether it’s new construction or making existing facilities more energy efficient, technologies such as Building Information Modeling (BIM) continue to underpin the growth of green building. BIM offers many benefits – from helping agencies assess building performance, prioritize investments, and evaluate proposals before they put brick to mortar; to helping make sustainable building renovations easier, more efficient and less costly.

And BIM is about to explode, earlier this month, Autodesk blogger Geoff Zeiss, quoted a new report from by McGraw-Hill Construction that suggests that the growth of the green building market will accelerate the adoption of BIM. According to the report – Green BIM: How Building Information Modeling is Contributing to Green Design
and Construction
– “78% of respondents who aren’t currently using BIM on green building projects expect to do so within just three years.”

Here are just some examples of what BIM can do to help government agencies design and maintain greener building operations.

2. Greening through Virtualization

While buildings are the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions, what they contain may be the reason why.

From the desktop to the data center, information technology is an expensive gas guzzler, consuming untold amounts of power through their own power needs as well as the peripheral heating and cooling systems
that keep them optimized. Yet technologies such as virtualization, can potentially help government agencies their data center energy usage by as much as 90%! By using technology to consolidate and improve the
utilization of data center servers, applications, and IT storage systems virtualization drives increased efficiencies, better resource utilization, and less energy consumption. Read more about how green IT is becoming a reality through virtualization.

3. Green Transportation

While many in government are familiar with telework, rideshare and mass transit as ways to help reduce the collective carbon footprint of government employees, the very transportation systems we depend on are
also going green.

By using design and project management tools such as AutoCAD Civil 3D and Navisworks, transportation system designers and engineers can model and visualize a project to see if it meets the functional needs and
sustainability expectations, and adjust if need be, before a single shovel hits the earth. This ultimately reduces project lifecycle of these transportation projects and lessens the environmental footprint that construction and maintenance cycles inevitable incur. This resources page has more information on cutting-edge government
transportation solutions

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