GSA's leadership

The General Services Administration (or GSA) -- the agency that manges most of the federal government's buildings and leases -- announced today a plan to invest in systems to monitor and measure energy use in certain GSA buildings.  These investments are expected to lead to millions of dollars in savings each year in the form of reduced energy bills.

This move by the GSA should be lauded as good management of the Government's building stock, but it should also be seen as a best practice among commercial building owners and tenant for good building management.  Commercial building owners should follow.

Better information about building energy usage is foundational.  It enables the owner or tenant to make other decisions with greater reliability, insight, and precision.  The kind of systems GSA is planning to implement are essentially like the instrument guages on a car, but instead of monitoring speed or RPMs its monitoring the electricity used by the air conditioner, lights, plugs, etc.  The information that comes through can be used for many purposes, enabling not only better energy use to reduce bills and better management to increase equipment life, but also to increase comfort and improve lighting -- measures that work to increase productivity within the building.  

In some ways this GSA announcement is not a surprise -- the GSA team has been working on improving energy efficiency for years, and the President early in this administration directed the GSA to move full steam ahead, so to speak, on efficiency.  

One last note -- GSA appears to have selected IBM as a lead vendor to implement the systems that will collect energy usage information to enable analysis and better management of the building.  There are a number of very interesting providers of systems in the same class, each with different flavors, some combining products with additional services, that generally provide similar functions.  We have been watching this industry take shape in recent years and commercial building owners and tenants take notice of the value proposition involved.

It's a very promising space.  Companies with interesting products and services include Johnson Controls, SCIenergy, EnerNoc, AtSite, Honeywell, Serious Energy, Daintree Networks, Schneider Electric, Siemens, General Electric, Viridity, Building IQ and others.   Some have services to help shift demand to achieve best pricing, others offer analysis to diagnose building faults, and more.

In a nutshell, the GSA's investment makes a ton of sense and should be lauded as good government and best practice.