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US federal agencies stand to save $5 billion by 2020 through smarter ICT

Date
27 June 2013
US federal agencies stand to save $5 billion by 2020 through smarter ICT

LONDON: Today, the Center for Climate Change (C2ES) launches a new report which examines how federal agencies can reach sustainability goals by implementing smart information technologies, including more efficient energy management systems, tele-conferencing and data centers.

The report, Leading by Example 2.0: How Information and Communication Technologies Help Achieve Federal Sustainability Goals, focuses on improving the efficiency of US federal agencies' energy consumption, in part because in 2010, agencies' direct and indirect greenhouse emissions accounted for 1.8% of the nation’s total.

Federal agencies currently:

  • Own or operate 660,000 vehicles
  • Own or manage approximately 400,000 buildings
  • Employ 1.8 million workers.

C2ES President Eileen Claussen, said: “Smarter use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) is one good way the nation’s largest landlord, fleet operator, and consumer of goods and services can both shrink its carbon footprint and save taxpayers money.” 

ICTs

The report estimates that the widespread adoption of smart ICTs across states would result in savings of over US$5 billion in energy costs through 2020, and authors state that it is critical ICTs are included in future Energy Saving Performance Contracts (ESPCs).

As the report outlines, updating information technology systems is continually proven to reduce costs. General Services Administration used to host an email system that relied on 324 servers in 14 data centers across the country. By switching to a cloud-based service the agency saved US$15.2 million annually while cutting energy use by 85%.

Full introduction of smart ICTs would also accelerate progress towards national sustainability targets, as the Obama administration has set a goal of reducing federal agencies' direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions by 24% by 2020 compared to 2008 levels.

FEDERAL BUILDINGS

Buildings are another prime target for additional energy-saving actions. At present they are responsible for over 87% of federal agencies’ GHG emissions and about US$7.2 billion in energy costs.

The report argues that using more advanced tools for designing and renovating buildings so they are more energy efficient will play a crucial role in the US Government’s sustainability efforts. Building maintenance and energy performance can also be improved by facilitating better integration of metering and data from sensors with building energy management systems.

EXPANDED TELEWORK

The report also advocates that agencies update their technology infrastructure and embrace new opportunities for telework. This will both increase worker productivity and reduce costs, while representing a significant step towards energy savings and greater sustainability.

Powerful, lower-cost technology has enabled increased use of telework across the federal government for the past decade. In 2012, 141,000 federal workers were teleworking at least one day a week, with substantial numbers doing it two or three days or more, a survey by the US Office of Personnel Management revealed.

US climate policy

Many of these critical areas for reform listed by the C2ES report are in line with President Obama's new Climate Action Plan. On Tuesday, when launching his new climate policy President Obama said: "Today I’m setting a new goal. Your federal government will consume 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources within the next seven years. We are going to set that goal. We’ll also encourage private capital to get off the sidelines and get into these energy-saving investments. And by the end of the next decade, these combined efficiency standards for appliances and federal buildings will reduce carbon pollution by at least 3 billion tons."

Read More:

Obama commits to regulating power plants in climate action plan

Evan Juska: Why a carbon tax isn’t part of President Obama’s climate plan

By Alana Ryan

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