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Getting Up to Speed on GSA's Green Stimulus

The General Services Administration, the U.S. government's facilities manager, is one of the first federal agencies to disseminate green stimulus dollars for the real estate sector.

My friend, Mark Bennett, who heads the climate change practice at the law firm of Miller Canfield, is a specialist in securing funding and understanding regulatory requirements associated with energy efficient retrofits, and has kept me up to date on where GSA is focusing its stimulus monies.

The GSA's ambitious green facilities initiative is focused in three areas, totaling $5.55 billion:

$4.5 billion: Federal building conversion to high-performance green spaces
$750 million: Federal building and courthouse renovations
$300 million: Renovation and construction of land ports of entry

Projects are to be funded throughout the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Here's the complete project list.

Green projects include:

$1.03 billion in new construction initiatives for 17 projects including federal buildings, courthouses and land ports of entry.
$3.17 billion in full and partial federal building renovations. Over 40 projects were selected from a list of over 200, with final selections based on energy conservation opportunities, the ability to start projects within 120 days, the ability to control project risk, financial returns and historic significance. All projects must comply with the 2007 Energy Act and Executive Order 13423, which mandate the use of green and energy efficient technologies.
$807 million in limited scope renovations. Approximately 200 limited scope renovations were selected on the basis of needed energy improvements (the worst-performing buildings were selected first). Projects will be equipped with advanced metering devices and buildings that need roof replacements will be equipped with integrated photovoltaic membrane material (solar film), vegetation or cool roof membranes.
• Additional projects include small renovations ($298.5 million).

The GSA has established a national Recovery Act Program Management Office, headed by Bill Guerin, most recently GSA's assistant commissioner for the Public Buildings Service, to oversee stimulus construction and renovation efforts. Regional offices will execute the program under Guerin's direction.

Miller Canfield's Bennett advises engineering and construction company executives to peruse the project list and explore bid opportunities with GSA and its regional offices. "Companies shouldn't be intimidated by the process -- the money is there to be invested as soon as possible," Bennett says.

Bennett also views the GSA program as a living laboratory for sustainability initiatives, noting that the energy efficiency programs run the gamut from techniques that have been used repeatedly to green technologies just coming into common use. "GSA will help to mainstream sustainable construction and renovation through its stimulus spending," Bennett predicts. Good news as first quarter 2009 building starts skid 18 percent in square footage and 8 percent in value versus 2008.

Leanne Tobias is founder and principal of Malachite LLC, an advisory firm that specializes in the development, leasing, management, financing and certification of sustainable or green real estate on a global basis. Comment online, or write to Leanne about your green real estate thoughts and experiences at [email protected]. She'll share the best of reader feedback in future posts.

Image by hbrinkman.

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