By Steve Rizer
A draft report that a task group issued earlier this month should be a source of encouragement for those advocates who want the federal government to achieve its self-imposed goals for net-zero-energy (NZE) buildings and, in turn, convince the private sector to follow suit for its structures. In the report, the task group told the U.S. General Services Administration’s (GSA) Office of High-Performance Green Buildings that the U.S. government can convert half of its existing buildings to NZE by 2030 … and perhaps even surpass that mark.
To get there, the Net Zero Energy buildings task group emphasized that federal action is needed on several fronts. The task group believes the 50-percent goal and other targets outlined in the document can be achieved through “a combination of new construction projects, retrofit projects, and net-zero-energy-building leases on individual buildings, campuses, and portfolios of buildings.”
Among other things, the task group recommended that each federal building listed as an NZE, whether leased or owned, be required to publish its annual net energy use, including (but not limited to) annual energy consumption (by fuel source), annual energy production (by type), and annual energy offset via purchases or renewable energy certificates.
The task group, established by the Green Building Advisory Committee (GBAC), additionally suggested that the federal government allow civilian agencies to sign extended power-purchase-agreement (PPA) contracts. Furthermore, the federal government “should be actionable in identifying and resolving any other impediments to using PPAs and other alternative financing mechanisms for federal projects.”
In the report's conclusion, the task group asserted that “GSA can lead the federal government and the country as a whole in delivering compliant high-performance NZE buildings. Through the use of the strategies recommended within this document and others, the federal government can attain -- and even surpass -- the recommended goal of verifying 50 percent of federal building area as NZE. We believe strongly that achieving this goal will decrease agency operating costs, provide a number of immeasurable benefits to building occupants, increase the federal government’s energy security, and provide the most economically sound long-term solution for managing the federal building stock.”
The ConstructionPro Network member version of this article includes additional key details about the report and new developments involving the Building Labels task group.