The federal government has cut its energy consumption by 30% since 1985, and the Obama administration is seeking to ramp up that effort dramatically with the help of $4.5 billion in stimulus funds to be spent by next September entirely for federal green building and renovation projects. By executive order, the federal government is aiming to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 28 percent by 2020.
With $25 billion in annual power and fuel costs, the U.S. government is the largest single energy consumer in the nation's economy, and among the largest in the world. Of course, the 500,000 buildings the government leases or owns include not only office space, but supercomputers, hospitals, and aviation safety radar facilities. And the 600,000 vehicles that Uncle Sam has to tank up include those conveying troops engaged in active combat.
"We have an opportunity to be an example for American building, a proving ground for what works," says Bob Peck, commissioner of public buildings for the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), the agency that manages real estate and procurement for the civilian government.