Skip to main content

NREL's Long-Term Relationship with GSA Stands the Test of Time

U.S. General Services Administration logo.

In 2006, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) began working in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to improve on building efficiencies and incorporate renewable energy where possible. Successful in increasing energy efficiency and reducing costs, the GSA has become a "leader by example" and other federal agencies are now looking to GSA for strategies on how to meet the energy goals laid out by the President's new E.O. 13693, Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade.

The GSA owns and leases over 350 million square feet of space in over 9,600 buildings. More than one-quarter of these are listed or eligible for historic designation. The GSA partnered with NREL to find energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities to provide heating, cooling, and power to these facilities in an efficient and sustainable manner.

Over the course of nearly 10 years, NREL conducted energy efficient assessments and analyses on over 30 buildings providing the GSA with efficiency recommendations based on impact and investment payback. Twenty of these assessments were completed for GSA Mid-Atlantic Region buildings within a 5-year period.

NREL's assessments revealed a number of findings that could potentially save energy across GSA's portfolio of office buildings. For example, a plug load assessment conducted in 2012 on eight GSA office buildings in the Mid-Atlantic region showed in a potential 27% to 69% energy use reduction in printer loads and 51% to 81% in miscellaneous equipment loads that run 24/7 such as, clocks, speakers, pencil sharpeners, calculators, and phone chargers.

But it was the relationships that were built over the years that provided GSA facility managers and building operators with the knowledge to make informed decisions and the confidence to implement many of NREL's recommendations.

For example, in 2008, 91 LED fixtures were installed in a GSA building parking lot to replace fluorescent fixtures in the garage in order to  of reduce facility energy consumptions by 56,457 kilowatt hours and annual electricity costs by approximately $9,880. Today, every GSA parking lot has either followed suit or is in the process of making these changes.

NREL not only provided the technical assistance GSA requested to drive building efficiency across all GSA owned and leased facilities, but also influenced behavioral change across the organization. This culture change resulted in greater collaboration among those responsible for energy management and widespread cooperation from building occupants that still lives on today.