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Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA)

The stated purpose of the act is "to move the United States toward greater energy independence and security, to increase the production of clean renewable fuels, to protect consumers, to increase the efficiency of products, buildings, and vehicles, to promote research on and deploy greenhouse gas capture and storage options, and to improve the energy performance of the Federal Government, and for other purposes." Search for excerptsopens in new window relevant to Federal buildings at DOE or view full text at GPO.govopens in new window.

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Alternative Fuel Vehicle

Vehicles that use low-polluting, nongasoline fuels to power their engines. Alternative fuels include electricity, hydrogen, propane, compressed natural gas, liquid natural gas, and ethanol.

Alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) are defined by section 301 of the Energy Policy Act of 1992 and otherwise includes electric fueled vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, dedicated alternative fuel vehicles, dual fueled alternative fuel vehicles, qualified fuel cell motor vehicles, advanced lean burn technology motor vehicles, human-propelled vehicles such as bicycles and any other alternative fuel vehicles that are defined by statute.

Electric Auto Associationnon government site opens in new window

DOE | Alternative Fuels Data Centeropens in new window


To benchmark a building is to measure and rate the performance of a particular building compared to a standard. Various building performance indicators can be used for benchmarking (e.g. energy, water, air quality, thermal comfort) however energy use is the most commonly used and well-developed benchmarking indicator. Section 432 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) requires that all federal metered buildings subject to energy reduction goals must be benchmarked for energy performance using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager or a similar tool. See EnergyStar.govopens in new window.

Building Commissioning

The process that focuses on verifying and documenting that the facility and all of its systems and assemblies are planned, designed, installed, tested, operated, and maintained to meet the Owner's Project Requirements. This means testing all systems (HVAC, lighting controls, domestic hot water systems, etc.) to ensure they function as intended. Proper commissioning saves energy, reduces risk, and creates value for building operators. It also serves as a quality assurance process for enhancing the delivery of the project.

DOE EERE | Commissioning for Federal Facilitiesopens in new window

Building Commissioning Associationnon government site opens in new window

Building Performance

Building performance can be measured against various environmental and economic attributes. A key to evaluating building performance is establishing a common set of measurements to be used. Sustainable building standards often consider environmental performance in categories including, energy, water, indoor environmental quality, materials use, waste management, as well as economic performance, such as life-cycle costs.

Guiding Principles for Sustainable Federal Buildingsopens in new window

TechStreet.com | ASHRAE’s Performance Measurement Protocolsnon government site opens in new window

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is a comparison of the amount of energy used compared to the amount of output produced. In the built environment, this means using the least amount of energy (electricity, natural gas, etc.) to operate a facility appropriately. Steps that can help a building run efficiently include: ensuring there are no air leaks, using sensors or timers to ensure the building isn’t operating when vacant, and using energy-efficient equipment.

Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA)

Energy Intensity

The energy consumption per square foot of building space, including industrial or laboratory facilitities (e.g., kWh/sq-ft)

Energy Performance

Assessing a building’s energy performance involves comparing its energy use to that of peers or a standard. The ENERGY STAR program provides recognized benchmarks for assessing a building’s energy performance.

Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC)

Energy savings performance contracts (ESPCs) allow Federal agencies to complete energy-savings projects without up-front capital costs and special Congressional appropriations. An ESPC is a partnership between a Federal agency and an energy service company (ESCO). The ESCO conducts a comprehensive energy audit of Federal facilities and identifies improvements to save energy. In consultation with the Federal agency, the ESCO designs and constructs a project that meets the agency's needs and arranges the necessary funding. The ESCO guarantees that the improvements will generate energy cost savings to pay for the project over the term of the contract (up to 25 years). After the contract ends, all additional cost savings accrue to the agency.

Federal agencies can access expert assistance, guidance, and training to help them implement ESPC projects through the Federal Energy Management Programopens in new window (FEMP).

Federal Requirements

Federal requirements are important considerations when starting any sustainable project. Within SFTool, these include the Guiding Principles, Executive Orders, and other guidance or regulatory documents.

Federal requirements are viewable when exploring Sustainable Workspaces and Whole Building Systems.

Fossil Fuel

A hydrocarbon deposit that is used for fuel, such as petroleum, coal, or natural gas, derived of living matter from a previous geologic time. The supply of these fuels is not renewable, meaning that they cannot be replaced quickly enough and in sufficient amounts to keep pace with current usage. The burning of fossil fuels for fuel energy also contributes to pollution and releases greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.

FEMPopens in new window

Greenhouse Gases

Gases that trap heat in the earth’s atmosphere are called greenhouse gases. Examples of greenhouse gases include carbon dioxidenon government site opens in new window, methane, and chlorofluorocarbons. The primary source of carbon dioxide emissions is the combustion of fossil fuels for energy.

EPA | Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissionsopens in new window

FEMP | Annual Greenhouse Gas and Sustainability Data Reportopens in new window

Greenhouse Gases (GHG)

A range of human activities cause the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere (e.g., the release of carbon dioxide during fuel combustion). These gasses can damage or be trapped in the earth’s atmospheric layers, contributing to global climate change.

EPA | Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissionsopens in new window

Low-emission Vehicle

A low-emission vehicle releases low levels of particulates and gases into the atmosphere.

Measurement and Verification Plan (M&V Plan)

A Measurement and Verification (M&V) Plan describes the process to determine the energy savings from energy conservation measures. A comprehensive plan helps building management keep track of energy use and identify problems. M&V plans also help identify systems which use energy, monitor electricity metering, track the success of energy-savings plans, and identify the party responsible for keeping up with the execution of the M&V plan.  A discussion of measurement and verification plans may be found in the International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol (IPMVP) from the Efficiency Valuation Organization (EVO).

Efficiency Valuation Organization (EVO)non government site opens in new window

DOE | M&V Guidelines: Measurement and Verifciation for Performance-Based Contracts (version 4.0)opens in new window

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy comes from sources that are either inexhaustible or can be replaced very rapidly through natural processes. Examples include the sun, wind, geothermal energy, small (river-turbine) hydropower, and other hydrokinetic energy (waves and tides). Using renewable energy reduces a building's carbon footprint. There are various options for providing renewable energy to buildings, the most common being solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. Buildings can also purchase renewable energy from offsite sources.

EPA | Renewable Energyopens in new window

DOE | Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energyopens in new window

Resource Metering

Metering is the measurement of fuel (such as electricity, natural gas, and steam) and water used in facilities. Meters are useful for determining compliance with building operating plans and other monitoring activities.

See U.S. Department of Energy guidance for Federal Agencies.opens in new window  

Sustainable Purchasing

Purchasing managers should create purchasing plans and programs that give preference to items containing recycled content, certified wood, and rapidly renewable materials, as well as items that are energy efficient, non-toxic, durable and locally manufactured, harvested and / or extracted.  Further, purchasing managers should prioritize vendors who promote source reduction through reusable or minimal packaging of products.

EPA | Greener Productsopens in new window

Department of Energy | Federal Laws and Requirements Searchopens in new window

Share non government site opens in new window

Did You Know?

You can get one free hour’s worth of continuing education / professional development by passing the Federal Facilities Skills Assessment Tool (FEDSAT)!

Take the Assessment  

Case Study


PBS Office - Skylight

Good health has both physical and psychological components. Being healthy means the absence of disease and illness, as well as feeling positive about life and work. The workplace can play a role in the health of workers by eliminating risks and creating conditions that support cognitive, emotional, and social well-being.

View Case Study