GSA to get fitted for carbon footprint

The General Services Administration's Office of Integrated Technology Services is close to awarding a task order for a carbon footprint analysis. The work will be a pilot for all of GSA.

"My plan is to have them assess how much energy we consume in our day-to-day operations," said John Johnson, the office's assistant commissioner. The assessment will include looking at information technology equipment, the number of employees, the energy they use, where employees live and how they get to work, he said.

The analysis will indicate the mode of transportation employees use to travel to work, including whether they drive alone, participate in a car pool or take mass transit, Johnson said. "This will give me some indication as to where we are in terms of our energy use and carbon emissions."

With the information gathered in the analysis, GSA plans to align that data with strategic initiatives, such as offering more telework options to employees, he said.

"We'll be able to discuss how and why an investment in IT infrastructure for telecommuting would be a wise investment in contrast to the energy savings that would accrue," he said.

The information might open new ways of thinking about operations, such as compensating employees to use mass transit if it would reduce the office's carbon footprint, Johnson said. "But first you have to establish a baseline to measure yourself against so you can align your initiatives to that baseline to quantify the improvements," he added.

Using telework as an example, Johnson said the carbon footprint analysis will produce information that he can use to build a business case for infrastructure investments. For example, contracting officers need access to contract files, so GSA would need to digitize those files and develop applications to search and manipulate those files. There also are security issues to address.

"If you have a baseline to measure yourself against, it is far easier to gain the approval of the powers that be to gain the investment," Johnson said. "You can say that by purchasing this hardware or software, we are going to not only be able to telework but we will reduce our carbon footprint by X amount."

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

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