IBM takes first steps to turn GSA buildings green

Initial $8 million award covers program development and installation in 50 buildings.

IBM Corp. will develop and install advanced smart building technology in General Services Administration-owned properties under a contract that eventually could total $11.5 million.

Part of GSA’s larger smart building strategy, the initiative will first single out 50 of the federal government’s highest energy-consuming buildings and connect building management systems to a central cloud-based platform, improving efficiency and saving as much as $15 million in taxpayer dollars annually, according to the GSA and IBM announcements.

The initial award of $8 million will go for program development and installation in the 50 buildings. The additional $3.5 million would add another 50 buildings to the system.

Eventually, all buildings in the GSA portfolio will connect to the cloud platform.

As additional federal buildings are constructed and other facilities are upgraded, those buildings also will be managed with this platform.

The new technology will give property managers real time information and diagnostic tools to keep buildings performing at peak efficiency, increasing cost savings across the federal building portfolio, the announcement said.

Commercial buildings account for nearly 40 percent of the United States’ primary energy use and GSA owns nearly 182 million square feet of office space nationwide.

GSA's plan to meet the requirements of President Obama’s Executive Order 13514 includes a goal of reducing energy consumption in federal buildings by 30 percent by 2015.

Under the terms of the contract, IBM will develop a system to monitor building performance nationwide and stream data to a central facility, allowing faster analysis and more informed decision-making.

This project uses innovative building management technology, linking major building controls in real time to make federal buildings more energy efficient. When fully implemented, GSA will use newly available data and analytics to save energy and reduce building operating costs throughout its entire owned inventory.

Tenants then will be able to view the performance of their buildings on dashboards with real time metrics on energy savings and recommendations on how to further increase efficiencies.

“The development of this industry-leading smart building system begins a new era in how GSA manages our nation’s public buildings and will prove the feasibility of this technology for the larger industry,” GSA Acting Public Buildings Commissioner Linda Chero said in the announcement.

“This program connects existing building technologies in new ways to improve building efficiency in over 32 million square feet of real estate," she said.

IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., ranks No. 21 on Washington Technology’s 2011 Top 100 list of the largest federal government contractors.