"Federal agencies find themselves caught in the crossfire between declining budgets, rising energy costs, and tougher sustainability mandates" -- Stephen Seidel, C2ES Senior Advisor.
Washington, D.C. (PRWEB) June 27, 2013
Federal agencies could achieve significant savings – of energy and money – through expanded use of information and communication technologies, according to a new report released today by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES).
If widely deployed, information and communication technologies (ICT) could help agencies meet half of their goals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and could save more than $5 billion in energy costs through 2020, C2ES estimated. These technologies include advanced energy sensors and controls, GPS-based fleet management systems, teleconferencing, and cloud-based data storage.
The new C2ES report, Leading by Example 2.0: How Information and Communication Technologies Help Achieve Federal Sustainability Goals, documents how the adoption of these technologies is helping federal agencies reduce costs and emissions. It also recommends steps agencies can take to overcome barriers to their expanded use.
“As President Obama emphasized in his new climate action plan, the federal government has both the opportunity and responsibility to lead by example in moving us in a more sustainable direction,” said C2ES President Eileen Claussen. “Smarter use of information and communication technologies 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.”
Federal agencies have an overall goal of reducing their direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions 24 percent below 2008 levels by 2020. Through 2011, the government had reduced total covered emissions almost 7 percent, primarily through energy efficiency and purchases of renewable energy.
Agencies could go much further by taking advantage of such ICT solutions as:
- Expanding the use of telework, teleconferencing and e-training,
- Installing more energy meters, building sensors and energy management systems, and
- Consolidating data centers and shifting IT systems to the cloud.
"Federal agencies find themselves caught in the crossfire between declining budgets, rising energy costs, and tougher sustainability mandates," said Stephen Seidel, author of the C2ES report. "With information and communication technologies, the government can reduce costs, meet its sustainability goals, and operate more efficiently."
The C2ES report builds on the center’s eight detailed case studies highlighting how agencies are beginning to use these technologies to save energy and cut costs. For example:
- The General Services Administration hosted an outdated email system that relied on 324 servers in 14 data centers across the country. By switching to a cloud-based service, it reduced energy use more than 85 percent, saving $15.2 million annually.
- The Smithsonian Institution had to cut costs and improve the efficiency of the 1,500 vehicles it uses for law enforcement, shuttle bus service, and maintenance. With tools that allow fleet managers to monitor real-time vehicle use and fuel consumption and track and schedule maintenance, the Smithsonian cut its fleet 19 percent and its petroleum use by 44 percent.
- The Coast Guard was paying more than double the U.S. average cost for electricity at its facilities in Puerto Rico. Using an energy saving performance contract, it replaced uninsulated roofs and inefficient HVAC equipment and installed energy controls plus three megawatts of solar photovoltaic power, reducing energy use 53 percent and saving $2.2 million annually.
The C2ES report also recommends steps to overcome barriers to wider use of these technologies across the federal government, such as:
- Expand use of energy saving performance contracts, an innovative mechanism that can overcome the lack of upfront funding for energy efficiency investments.
- Train and engage workers and managers early in the process of implementing teleworking and teleconferencing to help overcome resistance.
- Set goals and monitor progress by, for example, including targets for adopting ICT applications in the Office of Management and Budget’s annual agency sustainability scorecards.
- Form interagency communities of practice so that those responsible for fleet management, building energy use, and IT systems can identify best practices and overcome barriers.
The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization promoting strong policy and action to address the twin challenges of energy and climate change. Launched in November 2011, C2ES is the successor to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.