Environmental Protection

GSA Testing Sustainable Building Techniques

Energy savings from one of them, occupant responsive lighting systems, ranged from approximately 27 percent to 63 percent.

Two new reports from the U.S. General Services Administration's Green Proving Ground program concern technologies that reduce energy use in federal buildings, both of which could provide significant savings if widely implemented, according to GSA, which works with the Department of Energy's national laboratories to test the viability of such technologies. GSA also announced it will evaluate 12 additional sustainable building technologies in its federal buildings.

The reports concern occupant responsive lighting systems and plug load control.

The responsive lighting study involved five federal buildings in California and Nevada that represented a diversity of occupancy patterns, work styles, and lighting. Energy savings ranged from approximately 27 percent to 63 percent; according to GSA, lighting accounts for 39 percent of electricity costs in office buildings.

The plug load control study evaluated advanced power strips in eight buildings in the mid-Atlantic region. They save energy by controlling plug-in devices according to a schedule or based on a given device crossing a power threshold. This paper reports they cut plug loads at workstations by 26 percent and by nearly 50 percent in kitchens and printer rooms. This technology could significantly reduce costs because plug loads account for about 25 percent of electricity used in office buildings, according to GSA.

"This innovative program is another example of GSA leading the way for the federal government," said Dorothy Robyn, commissioner of GSA's Public Buildings Service. "By testing the effectiveness of these technologies, GSA is finding new ways that federal buildings across the nation can save both energy and taxpayer dollars."

The additional dozen technologies to be studied include wireless lighting controls, LED luminaires, glazing retrofit coatings, wireless pneumatic thermostats, solar thermal collectors, and water-saving landscape irrigation systems.

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