With more than 500,000 buildings across the country, the U.S. Federal Government has a big opportunity to improve sustainability and green building performance. All federal departments released 2013 sustainability plans that outline steps being taken to reduce carbon emissions and save energy.
Here, we take a closer look at the sustainability plan from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and offer a summary of how they’re achieving green building goals. Who better to learn from when it comes to reducing environmental impact and implementing energy conservation measures?
Reduction of GHG Emissions
The U.S. DOE aims to reduce scope 1 & 2 GHG emissions by 28%, and scope 3 GHG emissions by 13% by FY 2020. Most of its success so far is due to the improved performance and overall efficiency of its 47 facilities. A new biomass fueled steam plant, funded by an energy savings performance contract, is expected to save $4 million and avoid 20,000 tons of GHG emissions annually. Moving forward, they’re focused on:
- Teleworking and web-based/teleconference options
- Using specialized equipment for detecting emission leaks and preventative maintenance
- Increasing the number of facility/energy managers who are part of the Federal Buildings Personnel Training Act or are Certified Energy Managers
The U.S. DOE building portfolio includes unique scientific labs, accelerators, light sources, supercomputers and data centers, industrial facilities, and traditional offices. Its sustainability plan includes a goal to integrate green building into this mission-critical, energy-intensive, and aging infrastructure. In 2014, they plan to:
- Meter all energy-intensive buildings
- Conduct site-level energy audits and assessments to evaluate energy conservation measures
Water Use Efficiency & Management
Many DOE facilities use water for evaporative cooling towers, air conditioning, process heat removal, research, and cooling accelerators, light sources, supercomputers, and data centers. Industrial processes account for the majority of its potable and non-potable water use. By FY 2020, the goal is for U.S. DOE facilities to reduce potable water use intensity by 26%. To get there, they will:
- Replace a once-through cooling system with a re-circulating cooling water system
- Replace an old coal-fired steam plant with a new gas-fired boiler plant
- Conduct detailed site-level water assessments at high-use locations
- Investigate reuse of process water or gray water
Pollution Prevention/Waste Reduction
Many DOE sites utilize commercial and municipal waste collection and recycling services that include requirements in the contracts. But the department still wants to increase the number of waste streams available for recycling. They’re working on:
- Revamping the recycling program to include mixed paper and paperboard
- Participating in the United States Postal Service’s electronic recycling program
- Introducing a composting program
- Issuing a Print Management Guide featuring best practices and recommendations
Have you implemented any of these sustainability initiatives? What results have you seen?