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GSA Looking for a Sustainability Guru

March 12, 2010

By Alanna Malone

Often looked at as the federal government’s “landlord,” the General Services Administration has chosen to lead by example when it comes to pushing a sustainable agenda.

In response to President Barack Obama’s executive order on federal sustainability (October 2009), which challenged agencies to define efficiency goals and strategies, GSA recently announced the creation of a new post: Chief Greening Officer.

The job will be part of the agency’s Public Buildings Service division, helmed by Robert A. Peck, AIA. “We’re going through a change, trying to figure out the best ‘greening’ bang for the buck,” says Commissioner Peck. “And we have the opportunity to test some real measures to inform ourselves and the building industry about what works. We need one person to bring it all together.”

The Chief Greening Officer will be responsible for incorporating green practices into the entire GSA inventory—both owned and leased buildings. The officer will have a small staff and coordinate with greening officials in each of the GSA’s 11 regions. Scott Conner, director of the Denver Federal Center for GSA’s Rocky Mountain Region, will temporarily fill the role while the GSA searches for a permanent candidate. A hiring is expected this spring.

The job requirements are rather open-ended. “The right person could be an architect, engineer, or a music major, a current government employee, or someone from the outside,” Peck says. “They need to have hands-on experience with green building work, either in property management or design/construction, and a track record of making green things happen.”

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In related news, the GSA has moved its Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings from the Public Buildings Service to the Office of Governmentwide Policy. The move represents the focus on government buildings as a whole, not just GSA property, says Peck.

Created per the Energy Act of 2007, the Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings coordinates activities and disseminates information on sustainable strategies and practice to all federal agencies and departments. Peck says he hopes the Chief Greening Officer will work closely with the Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings. Ultimately, he hopes both of these measures will help the federal government serve as a “green proving ground” and a source of best practices for the building industry.

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