By Guest Blogger Ken Myers
The United States General Services Administration (GSA) released a statement last week calling for all green technology companies and innovators to submit a request for information under the Green Proving Ground initiative. This allows green technology companies to use the government entity as a test run for determining the efficiency and sustainability of their products.
Three years ago, the GSA, which owns and leases over 9,000 government buildings, re-dedicated itself to making its buildings more efficient and environmentally-friendly through the Green Proving Ground. Already the agency had shown its dedication to the environment by requiring each GSA building undergoing construction or renovation to conform to the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED),and the Green Proving Ground encouraged GSA buildings to continue that push towards sustainability by interacting with green technology innovators. In a symbiotic relationship with green technology companies, the GSA provides independent evaluation of the product and reports on the durability and environmental friendliness through real world usage. This gains exposure for up-and-coming green technology companies and reduces energy usage in buildings around the country.
In prior years, the GSA has used the Green Proving Ground to install condensing boilers, which reduced natural gas consumption by 14%, set up advanced power strips to reduce electricity usage on idling machinery for a savings of up to 50% in some areas, and set up responsive lighting to prevent electricity waste in empty rooms. These innovations and more were rigorously tested and the total efficiency measured by GSA in its yearly report.
Some of the more interesting technologies that are being installed and researched in GSA buildings nationwide are chilled beams and integrated daylight systems. The chilled beams program was enacted in 2011. Rather than relying on bulky, loud air conditioning systems to circulate cold air during the summer months, chilled beams were installed in an office setting. These beams use pumps to move cold water rather than a fan to move air, which reduces energy usage by 10-30%. While the startup cost is high, it provides a more consistent indoor air quality and cuts down on noise pollution.
Integrated daylight systems are a light system that adjusts the lights in an office building to keep constant illumination throughout the day. This system of “daylight harvesting” leads to lower electricity use during the summer and mid-day when offices are oversaturated with light from overhead lighting and mid-day sun. This saved GSA buildings 35% in electricity costs and was supported by employees who no longer had to adjust to compensate for the glare during the sunniest hours of the day. These are only two of the dozens of green technology innovations being tested year-round in government buildings.
The GSA announcement for new companies to use the Green Testing Ground comes on the heels of the GSA decision to approve use of Green Globes in addition to the LEED certification for government buildings. While some considered the pro-industry Green Globes endorsement a step back for environmentally friendly government buildings, the GSA believes that having two certification processes will actually help construction and renovation in government buildings. Giving government contractors and architects two certifications to choose from when designing a green building can be beneficial considering the large range of buildings used by the government. From hospital laboratories to large office buildings, the option of two certifications ensures protection for the environment and flexibility in design.
Those interested in donating or providing their green technology to the GSA under testing agreements need to submit their request for information form by December 9th. The GSA is seeking green technologies that reduce water use, electricity and operating costs. The GSA Green Testing Ground program is a unique opportunity to generate independent research and marketing through the US government.
About the Author
Ken Myers is a father, husband, and entrepreneur. He has combined his passion for helping families find in-home care with his experience to build a business. Learn more about him by visiting @KenneyMyers on Twitter.