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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

GSA's Fort Carson project points way to energy opportunities

If you are a government contractor looking to increase your business in green technology, a new report from the General Services Administration just might provide a blueprint for the kinds of technology and services the government is looking for.

Last week, GSA released a report on its net-zero energy project at the Fort Carson Army base in Colorado. Net-zero means that a facility generates as much energy as it consumes over the course of a year.

Fort Carson is flagship for the Army’s initiative to have an entire base reach a net zero status by 2020.

The GSA report looks at four areas of opportunities at Fort Carson:

  • Thermal envelope optimization – Think the insulation in your attic and walls and thermal-paned windows.
  • Daylighting and lighting system performance – More sunlight, more efficient artificial light.
  • Retrofit optimization – Renovating existing building to make them more energy efficient.
  • Occupant behavior on energy performance – Changing behaviors.

Of course, the first three are very technology centric and include data collection and monitoring equipment, areas that are rich in IT opportunities.

For the occupant behavior aspect, GSA and the Army conducted surveys, did group interviews and installed energy metering equipment. The metering was particularly important because one of the conclusions of the study is that informing people of energy usage helps them reduce that usage.

Based on that data, the research team, which included folks from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, tested a model for change that included what they call Rules (policies), Roles (people) and Tools (behavior interventions.)

The findings include that taking a deep dive into how efficiently building systems such as lighting and the thermal envelope are working brings a lot of benefit and identifies lifecycle costs and benefits.

Best practices need to be built into portfolio planning, standards, contract language and specifications.

The research also found benefits to integrating building system improvements with occupant engagement.

The improvements over the two-year research included real dollar and cents savings, with payback on the investment coming in as soon as seven-years in some cases.

There is a lot of emphasis in the report on data and giving feedback, particularly when looking at changing people’s behavior and determining where to invest in new energy efficient technologies.

My conclusion is that there are plenty of opportunities outlined in this report for everything from niche technologies, to design and build, to program management, to change management and, of course, analysis and consulting.

It’s worth a read.


Posted by Nick Wakeman on Sep 22, 2014 at 9:23 AM

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