This is the accessible text file for GAO report number GAO-09-111R 
entitled 'Status of GSA's Implementation of Selected Green Building 
Provisions of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007' which 
was released on October 31, 2008.

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United States Government Accountability Office: 
Washington, DC 20548: 

October 31, 2008: 

The Honorable Barbara Boxer:
The Honorable James M. Inhofe:
Ranking Member:
Committee on Environment and Public Works: 
United States Senate: 

The Honorable John D. Dingell:
The Honorable Joe L. Barton:
Ranking Member:
Committee on Energy and Commerce:
House of Representatives: 

Subject: Status of GSA's Implementation of Selected Green Building 
Provisions of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007: 

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, buildings in the 
United States account for 68 percent of the nation's total electricity 
consumption and 39 percent of its total energy consumption. In December 
2007, Congress enacted the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 
(EISA) to, among other things, increase energy efficiency and the 
availability of renewable energy in federal buildings. Specifically, 
the act established new energy-related requirements and standards for 
federal buildings and for the agencies that oversee them. For example, 
it required the General Services Administration (GSA) to establish an 
Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings to coordinate green 
building information and activities within GSA and with other federal 

The act also required GAO to report to Congress on the implementation 
of certain provisions contained in EISA by October 31, 2008, and 
October 31, 2009.[Footnote 1] As determined in consultation with your 
offices, this report fulfills the 2008 requirement by addressing the 
status of GSA's implementation of selected EISA requirements related to 
high-performance federal green buildings.[Footnote 2] We selected GSA 
as the focus of our initial report because GSA is responsible for the 
design, construction, operation, and maintenance of thousands of 
federally owned or leased facilities and GSA's tenants represent a wide 
cross section of federal agencies. Specifically, this report provides 
general information on the status of GSA's (1) establishment of an 
Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings, (2) designation of 
energy managers for federally owned facilities, (3) adoption of a 
certification system for federal green buildings, and (4) efforts to 
accelerate the use of more cost-effective technologies and practices at 
GSA facilities. To gather this information, we met with GSA 
headquarters officials, including the Acting Director of GSA's Office 
of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings, and reviewed relevant 
agency documentation, such as the GSA Web site and a testimony on 
federal green buildings. We also reviewed relevant provisions of EISA 
(Pub. L. No. 110-140). We conducted our work during October 2008. 

In summary, GSA appointed an Acting Director for the Office of Federal 
High-Performance Green Buildings in March 2008 and a few months later, 
announced the establishment of this office within GSA. According to GSA 
officials, GSA plans to designate energy managers for its federally 
owned facilities by November 2008. For certification, GSA has adopted 
the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and 
Environmental Design (LEED) green building standards.[Footnote 3] GSA 
is also in the early stages of implementing a program to accelerate the 
use of more cost-effective technologies and practices at GSA 

GSA Has Established an Office of Federal High-Performance Green 

In March 2008, GSA appointed an Acting Director for the Office of 
Federal High-Performance Green Buildings and a few months later, in 
June, announced the establishment of the office within GSA's Public 
Buildings Service. Some of the functions of this office include 
reviewing and coordinating high-performance green building information 
and activities within GSA and the federal government, identifying and 
developing standards for federal high-performance green buildings, and 
gathering data and developing benchmarks. 

GSA Plans to Designate Energy Managers for Its Federally Owned 

GSA plans to designate the facility manager for each of its 8,600 
federally owned properties as the energy manager for that facility and 
said it plans to have all energy managers in place by mid-November 
2008. According to GSA officials, a facility manager may also oversee 
more than one facility and, in those instances, the energy manager 
would be responsible for more than one facility. As part of their 
responsibilities, energy managers are required by law to conduct energy 
and water evaluations of federal facilities. The purpose of these 
evaluations is to identify and implement energy-and water-saving 
measures within specific time frames.[Footnote 4] In addition, each of 
GSA's 11 regions has an energy coordinator dedicated to energy 
conservation management. 

GSA Has Adopted a Green Building Rating System for Its Facilities: 

In 2003, GSA adopted the U.S. Green Building Council's Green Building 
Rating System, LEED, which requires third-party verification that a 
project is certified to meet green building standards. Since that time, 
GSA has required that the LEED green building rating system be used as 
a design criterion for all capital projects and has set as a goal for 
all such projects that they receive at least a "silver" certification. 
[Footnote 5] 

GSA Has Begun to Establish a Technology Acceleration Program: 

GSA has begun to establish a program for accelerating the use of more 
cost-effective technologies and practices at GSA facilities, according 
to GSA officials. GSA officials said that such technologies and 
practices provide opportunities for energy reductions within their 
facilities. As part of this technology acceleration program, in the 
spring of 2008, GSA reviewed the use of cost-effective lighting 
technologies in GSA facilities. GSA also indicated that it would 
evaluate the use of geothermal heat pumps in its buildings on a case- 
by-case basis as it undertakes major renovations of federal facilities. 
[Footnote 6] GSA has adopted this approach, officials said, because 
geothermal technology, though potentially cost-effective for new 
construction, can be technically challenging and costly to install in 
existing buildings. Furthermore, GSA officials told us, GSA is using 
other cost-effective practices in its facilities, such as reducing the 
need for artificial light by maximizing the use of natural light, 
insulating buildings more efficiently, and installing green (planted) 
roofs, which can absorb carbon dioxide while insulating facilities. 
According to GSA officials, the principal barrier to improving the 
energy performance of its existing buildings is the limited 
availability of capital for addressing a backlog of repairs and 
alterations that would improve energy or water conservation. GSA is 
seeking to address this, in part, through an expanded, deliberate 
program increasing the use of Energy Savings Performance Contracts 
(ESPC) and Utility Energy Savings Contracts (UESC). 

Agency Comments: 

We provided a draft of this report to GSA for review and comment. In an 
emailed response, GSA agreed with the report and provided additional 
information about improving the energy and water efficiency in existing 
buildings, which we have incorporated, as appropriate. 

We are sending copies of this report to appropriate congressional 
committees, the Administrator of GSA, and other interested parties. We 
will also make copies available to others upon request. In addition, 
the report will be available at no charge on the GAO Web site at 

If you or your staff has any questions about this report, please 
contact Terrell Dorn at (202) 512-6923 or or Mark 
Gaffigan at (202) 512-3841 or Contact points for our 
Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found on 
the last page of this report. Key contributors to this report were 
Steve Cohen and Karla Springer, Assistant Directors; Lauren Calhoun; 
Jean Cook; Gary Stofko; and Tracy Williams. 

Signed by: 

Terrell Dorn:
Director, Physical Infrastructure: 

Signed by: 

Mark Gaffigan: 
Director, Natural Resources and Environment: 

[End of section] 


[1] Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, Pub. L. No. 110-140, 
 437, 121 Stat. 1492, 1619---1620 (2007). 

[2] Section 437 of EISA requires GAO to conduct an audit and report by 
Oct. 31, 2009. The scope of that work will reflect GAO discussions with 
congressional committees of jurisdiction. 

[3] LEED is a third-party certification program and the nationally 
accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high- 
performance green buildings, according to the U.S. Green Building 

[4] Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, Pub. L. No. 110-140, 
 432(3), 121 Stat. 1492, 1608 (2007). 

[5] The LEED system awards points for meeting a variety of standards 
and designates a building as certified, silver, gold, or platinum. 

[6] Geothermal heat pumps can be used to heat, cool and, if so 
equipped, supply a facility with hot water by using the constant 
temperature of the earth as the exchange medium instead of the outside 
air temperature. Relative to air-source heat pumps, geothermal heat 
pumps are highly efficient, last longer, need little maintenance, and 
do not depend on the temperature of the outside air. 

[End of section] 

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