- According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration's Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey, government buildings reduced their energy intensity — or energy consumption per square foot — by 23% between 2003 and 2012, whereas privately owned commercial buildings reduced theirs by only 12% during the same period.
- The EIA said that federal, state and local government buildings are under mandates to improve their energy performance, such as the 2.5% annual reduction in energy intensity required between 2015 and 2025 by a presidential executive order.
- The EIA said its CBECS points to ways buildings can reduce their energy intensity, including monitoring energy use, modernizing equipment, automation of energy-consuming systems and putting together formal management plans with specific energy-reduction targets.
Government bodies at the federal, state or local levels own approximately 14% of commercial buildings in the U.S., according to the EIA. The CBECS also noted that formal energy management plans are nearly three times as common in government buildings as they are in private commercial buildings, as are building automation systems. However, government and private buildings are more on par with each other when it comes to upgrades to energy-producing systems.
Emphasis on increased efficiency in buildings, or high performance, at all levels of government is a cost-savings tool as well as a way to reduce environmental impact and increase the building's value and level of sustainability. A high-performing building is also easier to maintain and creates a better environment for its occupants, which is a growing consideration among building owners. Resiliency — or the building's ability to bounce back from a natural disaster — is another area of focus in keeping with the goal of creating a structure than can last for the long-term.
Government officials have emphasized the responsibility of the public sector to be a leading force for change in the way building owners operate. During the RICS Summit of the Americas earlier this year, Dorothy Robyn, former commissioner of GSA Public Buildings Service, said governments have — and should use — the ability to spur change in the building industry. "One of the things the federal government does really well is be an engine of technological innovation," she said. "It's an early adopter and early customer."