A fresh footprint
Contractors chase data-driven opportunities to reduce agency carbon emissions
- By Nick Wakeman
- Oct 30, 2008
For a growing number of government contractors,
the green revolution is moving beyond making
PCs and data centers run more efficiently.
Contractors are seeing an emerging market in helping
agencies manage their carbon footprints.
That includes not only making their information technology
systems run better, but also using IT to monitor
overall energy use, such as electricity, gas, steam and
water, and analyzing the energy consumption of their
Companies are seeing opportunities to install
advanced metering, manage equipment life cycles,
audit operations and train personnel.
But getting customers to see that vision can still be
"The biggest problem is we have a lot of people to
educate," said Jeff Wacker, a fellow and futurist at EDS
Corp. "To go green, too many people look at the bits
and pieces and then the reaction is, 'That is going to
cost me money.' "START WITH DATA
But with the tight budgets agencies are experiencing,
saving money can be a strong selling point for going
green. In addition, congressional mandates ? such as
the 2005 Energy Policy Act, 2007 Energy
Independence and Security Act, and Executive Order
13423 ? require agencies to collect information on
energy consumption and to look for ways to reduce
usage and lower costs, including using alternative fuels.
Data collection, benchmarking and data analysis are
at the heart of many of the opportunities contractors
The Navy, for instance, launched its Advanced
Metering Infrastructure Program in September with a
$250 million contract that went to systems integrator
American Systems Inc.; Square-D, a maker of electrical
control devices; and Weston Solutions Inc., an environmental
engineering company, said Bill Anderson, a
Navy program manager.
Although the service undertook the project to meet
current mandates, it is moving toward measuring its
carbon footprint, he said.
"I expect that with the next round of mandates that
we'll have to capture our carbon footprint data, and
we've started to do that," he said.
The Navy plans to install 12,000 meters on buildings
at its facilities worldwide. They will monitor electricity,
gas, steam and water use.
Although many of the buildings have meters, the
older meters don't allow for the type of monitoring
needed. The new ones are solid state as opposed to
electro-mechanical and will connect to a meter data
manager system, which will collect and analyze the
data, he said.
The project supports the notion that you can't
manage what you don't measure, said Peter Smith,
executive vice president of operations at American
"We really look at this as a systems integration project," he said. The data-analysis aspect, for
instance, will allow the Navy to identify
what is driving spikes in electricity use.
"Right now they don't know," Smith
Data collection is a critical starting
point when looking for efficiencies, said
Ronald Peoples, who manages the federal
consulting team at Citrix Systems Inc.
When Citrix goes in to help an organization
virtualize its servers, it starts by
asking about processing power, memory,
storage and use.
"You can't forget the users, too,"
Peoples said. "If you have different types
of users, that has to be factored in."
The questioning helps Citrix and its
customers determine where they can
reduce costs, what equipment they
should buy and how they can manage
Along with collecting data, it is
important to identify where the information
is coming from and integrate
those sources into an enterprise management
system, said Gary Rahl, a vice
president at Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.
"That way, you can get to the data more
readily and you don't have to go
through the exercise of digging it up
and estimating it each time you need it,"
After establishing the baseline on
energy use, it is critical to benchmark
the use, said Chet Thaker, chief executive
officer of Telebright Corp., which
makes software for energy-efficiency
"Knowing what you are spending and
monitoring your energy use [aren't]
enough," he said.
[asking] how good is your building at
using energy compared to buildings of
similar size and use characteristics?"
But don't make people sweat ? literally,
Thaker said. "What you want is
greater productivity from people.
Saving a few bucks on energy by making
them miserable isn't the thing to
do," he said.TAKE ADVANTAGE OF WHAT YOU HAVE
Often simple actions can get agencies
started on being more efficient.
After it does an assessment of an
agency's energy use and carbon footprint,
SRA International Inc. presents
two sets of recommendations. The first
set involves easy steps, but they can have
a significant result, said Timothy Cooke,
vice president and director of strategic
initiatives at the company.
"These are low-cost or no-cost things,
such as policy changes or switch settings,"
he said. "Organizations need to
take advantage of the technologies that
they already have in place."
It isn't uncommon for agencies to buy
Energy Star-compliant equipment and
not activate those features, said Anthony
Cicco, senior principal and director of
enterprisewide solutions at SRA.
Many companies are starting to see
growth opportunities beyond the easy
Booz Allen has done an alternative-fuels
analysis for the New York City
Department of Citywide Administrative
Services, which operates a fleet of several
thousand vehicles. The company also
conducted a greenhouse-gas inventory
for the Air Force and is working on a
carbon footprint analysis for the U.S.
"When you organize emissions into a
framework that makes sense to the
organization, you can begin to examine
what to do about them," Rahl said.EVOLVING OPPORTUNITY
Until recently, agencies had been asking
for bits and pieces of an overall solution,
but that is changing.
Science Applications International
Corp., for example, has been providing
energy procurement, audit and management
services; assessments of risk
management, carbon and renewable
energy; and energy-efficiency design-and-
build work for several years, said
Michael Mondshine, assistant vice president
and senior policy analyst for climate
change services at SAIC.
"We have done the pieces, but now
[agencies] are starting to think about
packaging them into a comprehensive
program," he said.
Although requests for proposals
incorporating a holistic approach are
still rare, many contractors remain convinced
that there is an opportunity.
SRA, like other commercial companies,
has done its own internal assessment
to reduce its expenditures. The
same potential is there for its customers.
"Where you can take what amounts
to wasted energy that is doing no one
any good and redeploy those assets?
there is a business in there," Cooke
said. "We think this is just the tip of
the iceberg."Nick Wakeman (nwakeman@1105govinfo.
com) is the editor of Washington Technology.