Emerging Building Technologies and GSA

by | 17 November 2015

In October 2015, the US General Services Administration (GSA) and Department of Energy (DOE) issued a joint request for information (RFI) calling on vendors to propose innovative building technologies in support of federal guidelines and goals, or, as the GSA announcement puts it, “technologies that have the potential to improve economic and environmental performance in federal and commercial buildings.”

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The jointly-issued RFI is the outgrowth of a memorandum of understanding signed by the two agencies in February 2015 to promote cooperation in finding ways to reduce energy usage throughout the US government. The strategies encompassed by the memorandum include developing shared standards for building management systems, increasing the use of renewable energy in federal facilities, and sharing best practices for using and developing green building and clean energy technologies.

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To that end, the agencies are soliciting through this RFI technologies in five categories: energy management, window attachments, fans and blowers, renewable energy, and water conservation and reuse. All these technologies are meant to support the Green Proving Ground (GPG) program of GSA and the High Impact Technology (HIT) program of the DOE. GPG coordinates with third-party evaluators to test the prerelease and early commercial stages of sustainable building technologies in federally owned building, while the HIT program supports the adoption of cost-effective energy efficiency technologies by facilitating their assessment in commercial buildings. The goal of the former program is to improve federal energy efficiencies, while the latter program is intended to influence the private marketplace to do the same

Last year’s RFI produced seven technologies that have been selected for evaluation:

  • A continuous combustion control system that optimizes the fuel mix in gas-fired boilers to increase boiler efficiency and reduce emissions (Lumec Control Products, Inc.)
  • Intelligent energy valves to reduce the energy consumed by hydronic systems by maintaining an optimal temperature difference between supply and return lines (Belimo Aircontrols USA, Inc.)
  • Daylight redirecting film, window film that redirects daylight through windows to the ceiling to extend the natural light zone (3M Company)
  • Circuit-level energy monitoring that collects and analyzes energy consumption in real time (Enertiv, Autodesk, Inc. and Panoramic Power)
  • Building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) in windows that can improve energy efficiency while also generating electrical power (Solaria Corporation)
  • Smart ceiling fans that monitor room temperature and humidity to adjust fan speed for optimal comfort (Big Ass Solutions)
  • Smart scrubbers for HVAC load reduction, technology that reduces the volume of outside air drawn indoors by removing contaminants from HVAC airflow (enVerid Systems)

Within their specialized areas, these technologies reduce energy consumption and emissions, realizing savings of from 8 percent in the case of the gas combustion control system to 30 percent in the case of the intelligent energy valve system.

GSA and DOE note that if an applicant’s technology is selected for evaluation through the GPG program, an HIT Catalyst demonstration project, or both, it will be matched with federally owned buildings or commercial buildings for measurement and verification by independent evaluators.

The current RFI is addressed to industry stakeholders and commercial organizations, as well as educational institutions, and nonprofit organizations. The application period ends at 11:59 EST on Friday, December 11, 2015. Anyone interested in responding to the RFI can review it at FedBizOpps.gov, while any questions can be directed to gpg+2015@gsa.gov.

Kurt Stout is the national leader of Colliers International’s Government Solutions practice group, which provides government real estate services to private investors and federal agencies. He also writes about federal real estate on his Capitol Markets team blog. You can contact Kurt by email or on Twitter.