GSA Inks Deal for Zero-Energy Building, Upgrades Texas Port

By Charles S. Clark

February 21, 2014

The General Services Administration has sealed an unusual deal to guarantee achievement of net-zero energy consumption in a federal facility, awarding a $6.4 million contract to Schneider Electric to upgrade the Almeric Christian Federal Building in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Dallas-based global energy management firm announced on Tuesday that it had won an Energy Savings Performance Contract as part of GSA’s ongoing Deep Retrofit Challenge, a deal expected to save $500,000 in the first year of a 19-year commitment.

Improvements to be completed by October 2014 in the remote region include upgrades to the building’s chilled water system and automated energy metering system as well as improvements to its interior and exterior lighting -- including solar photovoltaic installations -- and some retro-commissioning of heating and cooling systems to ensure they work.

The result, the agency and company predict, will be annual energy savings of 962,916 kilowatt hours, which amounts to 100 percent of the building’s baseline usage.

“Buildings in tropical climates face unique challenges in managing their energy, making net-zero energy difficult to achieve,” said Jeff Sherman, director of energy and sustainability services for Schneider Electric, which is precertified under an Energy Department program. “Having engaged in Energy Savings Performance Contracts in various Caribbean locations in the past, we felt well-positioned to partner with the GSA to provide the deep energy retrofits that would meet the needs of the Almeric Federal Building and help it become a leading example not only for federal buildings, but commercial buildings nationwide.”

GSA Regional Administrator Denise Pease said such contracts “offer so many benefits to the government and are just one additional way GSA is looking to make our facilities more energy-efficient, reduce our carbon footprint, save taxpayer dollars by reducing costs and help meet our goal of making a more sustainable government. These contracts offer the federal government the opportunity to reap long-term benefits of energy and cost savings without making an initial investment.”

Separately on Tuesday, GSA joined with the Homeland Security Department in announcing an expansion and modernization of the land port of Laredo, Texas, both to ease pedestrian and vehicle traffic at one of the nation’s busiest crossings as well as enable Customs and Border Protection to better prevent illegal entry.

Using a new $61.6 million appropriation, the agencies will construct a new automobile and bus inspection facility and modernize the equipment at two of Laredo’s ports and its administration building to facilitate trade and tourism.

“Laredo is a top priority for GSA, and a perfect example of how the agency’s commitment to efficiency and savings serves federal agencies and taxpayers alike,” said GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini in a statement. “By making critical investments in America’s infrastructure today, we will create significant savings by preventing costly emergency repairs in the future.”

DHS Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas added: “One of the top priorities for this administration, and for the department of Homeland Security, is to strengthen our border security while facilitating the lawful trade and travel essential to our economy. The funding to expand and modernize the Laredo Port of Entry reaffirms our commitment,” he said. “Over the past five years, DHS has dedicated historic levels of personnel, technology, and resources to the Southwest border and we will continue to work with our federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial partners, as well as our Mexican partners, to keep our communities safe.”

A contract to be awarded by August will call for the construction’s completion by July 2017.

By Charles S. Clark

February 21, 2014