IBM building technology to increase efficiency of federal structures

May 22, 2012

The use of innovative smart building systems from IBM in federal buildings across the country will help the government save millions annually, as the sustainable installations are to be carried out in the coming year.

According to a release from the tech company, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) awarded a contract to IBM to develop and install smart building technology in 50 of the government's highest energy-consuming structures.

The contract represents the push being made by the government to curb consumption and emissions from buildings across the country, as commercial structures currently account for 40 percent of the primary energy usage in the U.S.

The Department of Energy has designated a specific effort to help design, develop and test technology and systems for commercial structures in the U.S. Located at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (EEB Hub) is a consortium of the brightest minds from academia, energy development companies, the government and the private sector.

The EEB Hub is looking to create an economically viable retrofitting and green building sector in the Greater Philadelphia region to act as a model for the rest of the country.

These efforts by the government have been spearheaded by President Barack Obama, as his Executive Order 13514 includes a goal of reducing the total consumption of energy in federal buildings by 30 percent over the next three years.

According to the IBM release, the new systems in the GSA buildings will help owners and tenants better manage energy use and increase efficiency throughout the structures.

"This program connects existing building technologies in new ways to improve building efficiency in over 32 million square feet of real estate. Awarding this contract benefits taxpayers, as it will reduce maintenance and operating costs of the federal building portfolio – saving taxpayers an estimated $15 million annually," said Linda Chero, acting public buildings commissioner for GSA.

These types of systems have helped iconic structures like the Empire State Building reduce energy use by 20 percent just one year after the retrofit was completed, according to LiveScience.

Almost every aspect of the structure has been renovated, as energy systems control usage, LED lights were installed and regenerative braking was integrated into the elevators to recycle and harvest electricity.