Carper Urges Review of Federal Building Efficiency Measures to Save Taxpayer Dollars and Improve Energy Efficiency

In Letters to GAO and OMB, Senator Highlights Green Building Council Report Detailing Opportunities for Increased Energy Efficiency in Federal Buildings

WASHINGTON (May 11, 2010) – Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) urged the Office of Management and Budget  (OMB) Director Peter Orszag and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) Acting Comptroller General Gene Dodaro to review the federal government’s energy use in order to save taxpayer dollars and improve energy efficiency.  In his letters, Sen. Carper highlighted a recent United States Green Building Council report, "Using Executive Authority to Achieve Greener Buildings:  Guide for Policymakers to Enhance Sustainability and Efficiency in Multifamily Housing and Commercial Buildings," that detailed ways for the federal government to increase sustainability and efficiency in federal buildings.  


The report noted that the federal government currently invests $72 billion in over 30 energy efficiency programs but those programs are not being taken full advantage of, presenting an opportunity to increase taxpayer savings. For example, the report notes that the federal government has not used its existing authority to regularly audit federal facilities to determine if they’re using energy efficiently, nor has the government revised its existing energy performance requirements to ensure that federal facilities are as efficient as possible. Further, while the federal government is supposed to measure and verify the energy savings of all projects, they have not done so. 


The federal government is the single largest consumer of energy in the United States and in fiscal year 2008 the government spent $24.5 billion on energy. Of that $24.5 billion, over $7 billion was spent on energy to operate federal buildings.  By better utilizing existing energy efficiency programs, the federal government could significantly reduce its energy costs.


"The federal government is the single largest consumer of energy in the United States and every year we spend billions of precious taxpayer dollars on our energy costs," said Sen. Carper, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee that oversees Federal Financial Management.  "If this report is accurate, it offers us a treasure trove of untapped opportunities to save a significant amount of taxpayer money by making our nation’s federal buildings more energy efficient.  We should seize this opportunity and take the steps necessary to reduce our energy consumption and the cost to taxpayers." 


In the letter to the Acting Comptroller General Dodara, Sen. Carper asks the GAO to assess the accuracy of the Green Building Council report and determine whether federal agencies are indeed taking full advantage of the sustainability and energy efficiency authorities available to them. In his letter to Director Orszag, Sen. Carper also asked for OMB to review the report and take all the steps necessary to ensure that the federal government is maximizing its current sustainability and energy efficiency programs. 


 "Senator Carper’s leadership in alerting GAO and OMB of the programs outlined in this new report is timely and necessary. These two agencies can underscore the immediate actions the government can take to save energy and money today, without new funding or legislation," said Roger Platt, Senior Vice President, USGBC. "While Federal agencies have done an outstanding job of greening government buildings and operations, we now know that there is an enormous opportunity to do more for the entire nation under existing law."


The letters come on the heels of two bills introduced last month by Sen. Carper, the Federal Buildings Personnel Training Act of 2010 (S. 3250) and Improving Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Use By Federal Agencies Act of 2010 (S. 3251), that would ensure  that federal employees who operate and maintain federal facilities have the training and resources needed to safeguard our nation’s significant investment in energy efficient buildings.