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Sustainability Topics

Energy Management Systems (EnMS)

Energy Management Systems (EnMS) are a set of business processes that enable facility managers to act on energy usage data and optimize efficiency while identifying areas for improvement.

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Materials & Resources

In the construction and day-to-day operations of buildings, many materials and resources are used and a great deal of waste is generated. The materials selected for use in a facility and the way they are disposed of impact the environment.

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Environmental Programs

Environmental programs, both federal and third party, help buyers identify products and services with positive environmental attributes.  Many federal environmental programs, such as ENERGY STAR and BioPreferred, are mandatory for federal buyers. 

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Building Selection

A variety of physical building characteristics and operations policies should be evaluated for compliance with and support of the spaces’ health and wellness goals. Continue reading: Building Selection

Sustainable Sites

Choosing a building's site and managing that site during construction are important to ensure a project's sustainability. Environmentally responsible site selection discourages development of previously undeveloped land; minimizes a building's impact on ecosystems and waterways; encourages regionally appropriate landscaping; rewards smart transportation choices; and controls stormwater runoff. Additionally, appropriate site management can reduce erosion, light pollution, the heat island effect and construction-related pollution. Buildings can be placed in various locations; project teams should choose the environmentally preferred option and follow up with responsible stewardship of the site. Continue reading: Sustainable Sites

Greenhouse Gas Accounting

Learn how to calculate greenhouse gas emissions and the difference between greenhouse gas scopes. Continue reading: Greenhouse Gas Accounting

Biophilia and Design

Learn why nature is so important to us, what we know about the benefits of nature, and how biophilia is being applied in buildings, particularly in urban settings. Continue reading: Biophilia and Design

Circadian Light

Circadian rhythms are physiological processes that occur in the body approximately every 24-hours. Medical research has linked circadian disruption to health problems such as poor sleep, higher stress, heart disease, and diabetes. Continue reading: Circadian Light

What is Sustainability?

Sustainability is best thought of as a process, rather than an end state. Sustainability means to create and maintain conditions that balance the economic, social, and environmental requirements of present and future generations. In order to achieve such conditions, new ways of designing, constructing and operating buildings and facilities must be identified. Continue reading: What is Sustainability?

Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings

Building Decarbonization

Building decarbonization is the process of reducing GHG emissions from buildings, including reduction of GHG emissions from building operations (operational carbon) as well as from the materials and products used in buildings (embodied carbon). Continue reading: Building Decarbonization

Operational Carbon

Building operational decarbonization strategies include a combination of energy efficiency, carbon pollution-free electrcity, building electrification, and building and grid integration. Continue reading: Operational Carbon

Enhancing Health with Indoor Air

Four key levers to enhance health and performance by improving indoor air. Continue reading: Enhancing Health with Indoor Air

Health Enhancing Strategies

SFTool helps project teams build health-enhancing strategies into any project. Continue reading: Health Enhancing Strategies

Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ)

Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) is most simply described as the conditions inside the building. It includes air quality, but also access to daylight and views, pleasant acoustic conditions, and occupant control over lighting and thermal comfort.

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Buildings and Health

The challenge for building design and operations is to identify and eliminate health risks while also providing positive physical, emotional, and social supports as well as coping resources.

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Plug Loads

Plug loads refer to energy used by equipment that is plugged into an outlet. In an office, key plug loads include computer and monitors, printers, and copiers. Plug loads can average approximately 30% of electricity use in office settings, much of which can be attributed to parasitic loads (or the power draw of a plug-load that is not performing useful work).

Plug loads as a share of overall building energy use is higher in energy efficient buildings. In minimally code-compliant office buildings, plug loads may account for up to 25% of total energy consumption. But in high efficiency buildings, plug loads may account for more than 50% of the total energy consumption.

You can reduce plug loads by up to 50% at your facility by utilizing an integrated team approach and implementing simple, no cost and low cost plug load control strategies.Explore the Plug Load section to discover the importance of advanced power strips (APS), occupant education and power management in combating these energy-wasters.

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Sustainability Program Development

Sustainability Programs incorporate all building stakeholders into the design process, promoting awareness, goal development, implementation, acceptance, and effectiveness of facility sustainability efforts.

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Healthy Cleaning

The primary goal of this module is to promote the positive impacts of implementing a healthy cleaning program Continue reading: Healthy Cleaning

Building Energy Storage

Learn about about energy storage at the building level, and the benefits, challenges, opportunities and cautions. Continue reading: Building Energy Storage

Embodied Carbon

While operational carbon can be reduced over time as a result of implementing strategies such as energy efficiency upgrades and the use of renewable energy sources, embodied carbon is locked in as soon as the building is built. Continue reading: Embodied Carbon

Electric Vehicles and Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment

Learn more about the fundamentals of electric vehicles (EVs) and electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) and connect with resources to help you effectively plan and execute EV and EVSE projects. Continue reading: Electric Vehicles and Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment

Sustainable Response to COVID-19

Resources on sustainably responding to COVID-19 compiled by GSA's OFHPGB Continue reading: Sustainable Response to COVID-19

Child Care Centers

Because children spend such long hours at child care centers, the design of their spaces is especially critical. The design effort must allow for, and be sensitive to, the differences in space attributes for children and those for adults as well as the differences in space usage by the children in different age groups.

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Climate Terms and Tools

Facilities face many challenges related to climate change, including reducing emissions, adapting to new conditions, and increasing resilience. This page serves as a primer for building personnel who are new to the topic or looking for additional resources. Continue reading: Climate Terms and Tools

Vendor Resources

The Federal Government must purchase products that contain recycled content, are biobased, and are energy and water efficient; and, to the maximum extent practicable, purchase sustainable products and services identified or recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Continue reading: Vendor Resources

Building Water Use

Buildings are significant users of the Earth’s freshwater supply. The goal of a responsible building operator should be to encourage a smarter use of water, both inside and outside the facility.

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Building Energy Use and Emissions

Buildings and facilities rely on mechanical systems and electrical systems to operate fixtures, equipment and controls; deliver a thermally comfortable space; and maintain a high level of indoor environmental quality for occupants. Building operations consume approximately 40% of the energy and 74% of the electricity produced annually in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Any energy and electricity used in buildings that was generated through the combustion of fossil fuels also produces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These GHG emissions directly contribute to air pollution and climate change. Climate change mitigation requires the reduction of GHG emissions through strategies such as building decarbonization. Continue reading: Building Energy Use and Emissions

Did You Know?

Water use in commercial and institutional facilities, such as office buildings and hospitals, account for 17% of publicly-supplied water use in the U.S.

Source: EPA WaterSenseopens in new window

Reduce water use with SFTool  

Case Study

Occupant Comfort

Operable Windows
Comfortable workers are more likely to be productive and engaged with their work than those who struggle to work in spaces that create barriers and stresses. With an ever increasing number of environmental issues to be mindful of when designing spaces, GSA is developing practices that support both sustainability and worker comfort.

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