NASA, the General Services Administration, the Department of Defense and the Smithsonian Institution have all used information and communications technologies to reduce energy consumption and emissions while at the same time cutting costs and meeting sustainability mandates, according to a report released by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.
The C2ES report, “Leading by Example: Using Information and Communication Technologies to Achieve Federal Sustainability Goals,” highlights eight cases studies of federal agencies using smarter building systems to save energy; expanding teleconferencing, teleworking and e-training to cut travel and training costs as well as emissions; and shifting technology infrastructure from local servers and data centers to the cloud.
One case study describes NASA’s Sustainability Base office building at the Ames Research Center in Northern California. The building is capable of producing more electricity than it consumes. It uses a geothermal system for heating and cooling, incorporates solar PV and advanced fuel cells to supply electricity and includes a gray water recycling system, which reduced water consumption by 90 percent.
A separate case study outlines the GSA’s prototype alternative workplace, which eliminated private workspace and used mobility tools, such as smartphones and laptops, and an online office space reservation system, to allow employees to reserve workspace based on daily needs. The prototype was able to hold twice the number of workers in the same amount of space, while enhancing collaboration and use of telecommunications, all of which resulted in a 45 percent energy savings and $632,000 rent saving per year with a two-year return on investment.
GSA has other energy efficiency projects underway that were not outlined in the case study. Siemens Government Technologies is working on a $39 million energy efficiency project, slated for completion in October, that will allow the GSA to monitor and controls dozens of buildings, in four states, from one location.
Other case studies describe the DoD’s efforts to advance sustainability through communication tools used across the agency and with outside parties; GSA’s shift to cloud computing, which the agency expects to reduce email operation costs by 50 percent over the next five years; and the Smithsonian’s fleet management information system, which tracks vehicle use, gas consumption and maintenance and led to an 18 percent reduction in the number of light-duty vehicles the institute uses.
Photo of data stack from Center for Climate and Energy Solutions