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Highlights

Because of concerns about changes in Earth's climate due to greenhouse gas emissions and the potential economic and environmental consequences of these changes, GAO (1) inventoried greenhouse gas emissions generated by legislative branch operations in fiscal year 2006, as well as identified trends in emissions starting from a base year of the average annual amount emitted in fiscal years 1998 through 2001, and (2) identified a strategy for reducing emissions. To perform this work, GAO followed the Greenhouse Gas Protocol and additional guidance from the Environmental Protection Agency, using data provided by officials responsible for legislative branch operations and the General Services Administration.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Government Publishing Office Agencies that manage the operations of the legislative branch should establish a schedule for routinely conducting energy audits that provide sufficiently detailed information---such as targeted or comprehensive audits---to justify investing in projects.
Closed - Implemented
In April 2007, we reported that a strategy for Legislative Branch Agencies--Architect of the Capitol (AOC), Government Printing Office (GPO), and Government Accountability Office (GAO)--to reduce greenhouse gas emissions includes conducting energy audits to identify and evaluate energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Although AOC, GPO, and GAO had commissioned 11 energy audits of some of their facilities, the audits generally were not comprehensive and the agencies varied in the extent to which they had implemented the projects identified through the audits. We recommended that the agencies establish a schedule for routinely conducting energy audits that provide sufficiently detailed information to justify investing in projects. In preparation for an anticipated move to a new facility, GPO conducted multiple energy audits to help identify areas to increase building efficiency by looking at programs and processes that have short returns on investment. Conducting these energy audits represents a key step in GPO's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions because the audits can identify critical projects to reduce the largest sources of emissions--electricity use and fossil fuel combustion.
Architect of the Capitol Agencies that manage the operations of the legislative branch should establish a schedule for routinely conducting energy audits that provide sufficiently detailed information---such as targeted or comprehensive audits---to justify investing in projects.
Closed - Implemented
In April 2007, we reported that a strategy for Legislative Branch Agencies--Architect of the Capitol (AOC), Government Printing Office (GPO), and Government Accountability Office (GAO)--to reduce greenhouse gas emissions includes conducting energy audits to identify and evaluate energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Although AOC, GPO, and GAO had commissioned 11 energy audits of some of their facilities, the audits generally were not comprehensive and the agencies varied in the extent to which they had implemented the projects identified through the audits. We recommended that the agencies establish a schedule for routinely conducting energy audits that provide sufficiently detailed information to justify investing in projects. In response, by 2010 AOC had scheduled and/or completed energy audits for buildings in the U.S. Capitol Complex, and proposed a schedule for conducting further energy audits on a four-year cycle. Conducting these energy audits represents a key step in AOC's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions because the audits can identify critical projects to reduce the largest sources of emissions--electricity use and fossil fuel combustion.
Government Publishing Office The agencies should implement selected projects as part of an overall plan to reduce emissions that considers cost-effectiveness, the extent to which the projects reduce emissions, and funding options.
Closed - Implemented
In April 2007, we reported that a strategy for Legislative Branch Agencies--Architect of the Capitol (AOC), Government Printing Office (GPO), and Government Accountability Office (GAO)--to reduce greenhouse gas emissions includes conducting energy audits to identify and evaluate energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Although AOC, GPO, and GAO had commissioned 11 energy audits of some of their facilities, the audits generally were not comprehensive and the agencies varied in the extent to which they had implemented the projects identified through the audits. We recommended that the agencies should implement selected projects to reduce emissions. In anticipation of building a new facility, GPO has focused on projects with a short-term return on investment, such as replacing light bulbs with lower wattage bulbs, upgrading the building's steam monitoring system, and evaluating the efficiency of air handling units. Implementing these projects will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by legislative branch agencies, including the largest sources of emissions--electricity use and fossil fuel combustion.
Architect of the Capitol The agencies should implement selected projects as part of an overall plan to reduce emissions that considers cost-effectiveness, the extent to which the projects reduce emissions, and funding options.
Closed - Implemented
In April 2007, we reported that a strategy for Legislative Branch Agencies--Architect of the Capitol (AOC), Government Printing Office (GPO), and Government Accountability Office (GAO)--to reduce greenhouse gas emissions includes conducting energy audits to identify and evaluate energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Although AOC, GPO, and GAO had commissioned 11 energy audits of some of their facilities, the audits generally were not comprehensive and the agencies varied in the extent to which they had implemented the projects identified through the audits. We recommended that the agencies should implement selected projects to reduce emissions. In response, AOC awarded Energy Savings Performance Contracts to implement cost-effective energy efficiency projects, such as upgrading light fixtures to be more energy efficient, upgrading heating, ventilation, and air condition controls, and installing low-flow water fixtures. Implementing these projects will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by legislative branch agencies, including the largest sources of emissions--electricity use and fossil fuel combustion.

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