Last Monday (May 21, 2012), GSA awarded IBM with a contract, worth up to $11.5 million, to develop and install advanced smart building technology systems in 50 of the federal government’s highest energy-consuming buildings. Part of GSA’s larger smart building strategy, this initiative—which will use innovative technologies to connect building management systems to a central cloud-based platform—is expected to improve efficiency, reduce maintenance and operating costs and save taxpayers up to $15 million annually. The initial award of $8 million is for program development and installation in the first 50 structures; another $3.5 million would add 50 more buildings to the system, which eventually will be extended to GSA’s entire portfolio.
The effort is one element in GSA’s plan to meet the requirements of President Obama’s Executive Order 13514, which includes a goal of reducing energy consumption in federal buildings 30% by 2015, using FY2008 as a baseline. Under the terms of the contract, IBM will develop a system to monitor building performance nationwide and stream data to a central facility, allowing faster analysis and more informed decision-making. The project will link major building controls in real time, enabling GSA to use newly available data and analytics to save energy and reduce building operating costs.
“The development of this industry-leading smart building system begins a new era in how GSA manages our nation’s public buildings and will prove the feasibility of this technology for the larger industry,” said GSA Acting Public Buildings Commissioner Linda Chero in a statement released last week. “This program connects existing building technologies in new ways to improve building efficiency in over 32 million square feet of real estate.”
When the system is fully integrated, tenants will be able to view their buildings’ real-time energy performance via dashboards, which also will display recommendations on how to make their buildings perform at peak efficiency. In addition, building managers will get email and text message alerts and notifications to let them know when something needs to be fixed. The first 50 buildings are expected to be connected within the next year, by early June 2013. As additional federal buildings are upgraded or constructed, they also will be integrated into the system.