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Green initiatives bringing agencies savings, report says

Sep. 25, 2012 - 11:33AM   |  
By ANDY MEDICI   |   Comments

Agencies are making progress on environmental mandates and saving millions of dollars in the process, according to a new report by an environmental think tank.

“With the budget pressures that agencies are facing and their desire to make progress in their sustainability goals, this report offers a blueprint for how those objectives can be realized,” said Stephen Seidel, senior adviser at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions and author of the report, which is being released this week at the 2012 GreenGov Symposium.

Examples of how some green government projects are saving money include:

• $632,000 annually in savings at the General Services Administration by housing 170 full-time employees in a space that used to house only 73. In the new office, nobody owns a desk. Each day, employees reserve workstations, a concept called “hoteling.”

• $15.2 million annually over the next five years as GSA shifts its email to a cloud-computing service.

• $1 billion annually if GSA’s print management program — which defaults to double-sided printing and encourages more efficient use of printers — is implemented across government.

The 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act orders agencies to reduce energy use in their facilities by 30 percent from a 2005 baseline by 2015. A 2009 executive order requires 15 percent of buildings to meet green guidelines. Newly constructed buildings must use 30 percent less energy than a typical building of the same size. Renovated buildings must use 20 percent less energy.

Seidel said agencies need to encourage cultural and behavioral changes — such as using smaller workstations and more efficient printing — in order to bring about dramatic changes in their operations.

The report details other examples of agencies cutting costs but without specific savings identified.

The Defense Department, for example, has an initiative to create online collaboration and communication tools to lower travel and training spending. The Defense Connect Online system already has more than 700,000 users, and DoD expects that to grow to 2.5 million in four years.

The report also showcases a new fleet-tracking system that helps the Smithsonian Institution keep tabs on gas consumption, maintenance costs and how its vehicles are used. The agency has been able to cut the number of fleet vehicles by 18 percent and the amount of gas it uses by 44 percent, according to the report.

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