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Managers fear tighter budgets will impede energy-efficiency goals

Nov. 9, 2010 - 06:00AM   |  
By ANDY MEDICI   |   Comments
One example of the government trying to reduce greenhouse gases: The General Services Administration built a 1 megawatt solar park at the Denver Federal Center in 2008 using 6 acres of land near a major highway.
One example of the government trying to reduce greenhouse gases: The General Services Administration built a 1 megawatt solar park at the Denver Federal Center in 2008 using 6 acres of land near a major highway. (General Services Administration)

The poor economy and potentially tighter budgets will impede the government's ability to pursue energy efficiency, according to a majority of federal managers responding to a recent poll.

The poll of 201 managers with purchasing power found that 66 percent believe a tighter budget means more problems for energy-efficiency projects, while 32 identify a lack of funding as the biggest obstacle to achieving their agencies' goals.

Zogby International conducted the poll on behalf of Schneider Electric and the Alliance to Save Energy for the annual GovGreen conference in Washington.

Floyd DesChamps, senior vice president of policy and research at the Alliance to Save Energy, said that energy efficiency is more important now that more people are talking about the need for the government to save money.

"There are some things that federal agencies can work on, such as internal controls and motivation, that don't require additional funding," DesChamps said.

Agencies can work on changing employees' behavior and encouraging efficiency as ways to conserve both energy and financial resources.

About 17 percent of those surveyed identified changing human behaviors as the most important tool in achieving energy goals. But 29 percent said intelligent technology such as lighting controls is the most important.

There was a split in assessment of how agencies are treating the energy-efficiency mandates laid out by President Obama. While 38 percent identified energy efficiency as among the top five priorities, 36 percent said it was a second-tier priority, while 21 percent labeled it a low-tier priority.

Other findings include:

79 percent believe energy efficiency is the most effective way to lower greenhouse gases.

49 percent report that energy efficiency in their operations has significantly increased over the last two years.

About 65 percent believe their agencies encourage sustainable practices.

53 percent say their agencies have metered most or all buildings, while 11 percent their agencies have metered no buildings.

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