BRAC opens green opportunities at DOD

Power IT Down Day encourages individual actions for large, cumulative impact

Tom Simmons is area vice president for the U.S. public sector at Citrix Systems Inc., and Nigel Ballard is director of federal marketing for Intel Americas.

The Defense Department’s push to consolidate facilities as part of Base Realignment and Closure has always been viewed as a cost-saving measure. As base consolidation nears, one aspect of BRAC is becoming more important: finding ways to lower DOD's energy costs. After all, the less money spent on keeping the lights on, the more money available for the point of the spear.

Many of the agencies undertaking BRAC are incorporating organization-wide activities to achieve a greener government. For instance, the Pentagon has adopted the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system as the preferred metric for green building design and construction. LEED is an award given by the U.S. Green Building Council, a Washington-based nonprofit organization that recognizes sustainable building design and construction.

The Defense Contract Management Agency and Fort Irwin, Calif., are just two of the BRAC-affected organizations pursuing LEED certification for their new facilities. Among the green policies are the use of local and recycled building materials during construction, providing access to natural light to 85 percent of the workforce once they’re in place and implementing a recycling program when the move is complete.

Other organization-wide policy changes target the military workforce. Parking facilities at the Defense Information Systems Agency’s new campus at Fort Meade, Md., have been designed to give preferred spots to those who carpool, vanpool, or drive low-emission vehicles, for example. And BRAC also gives a boost to telework policies, in part to encourage employee retention and ease relocation difficulties, but with the added benefit of reducing gasoline consumption and traffic congestion.

All of these BRAC actions address agency-wide policies and procedures. The next step is to encourage individual actions which, considered on a per-person basis, might not seem significant, but collectively can have a huge impact.

The Defense Department has about 3 million employees, counting civilian and contract workers. If just 10 percent of those employees simply turned off their computers and peripherals overnight, the Pentagon could realize significant energy and cost savings – as much as $500,000 per weeknight. This is the goal of Power IT Down Day, an annual event that encourages individuals to take one simple step that can result in an enormous impact.

For the third consecutive year, Power IT Down Day challenges government and industry employees to “power down” their computers and other office equipment at the end of the workday. Industry sponsors Citrix, Intel, Hewlett-Packard and GTSI, joined by partnering organizations GovLoop, FedScoop, the General Services Administration, the Professional Services Council and Boscobel Marketing Communications, encourage DOD agencies – and all federal employees – to participate. Local governments, such as New Hanover County in Wilmington, N.C., have also pledged their support to Power IT Down Day.

This year, Power IT Down Day is Friday, Aug. 27, which gives the collective action of thousands of individuals even more of an impact: By powering down their IT equipment, employees will save electricity for more than two days. Reaching this year’s goal of 6,100 participants would save more than 335,000 kilowatt hours – a total weekend cost savings of more than $45,000 – simply by harnessing the power of the individual.

Just as BRAC is intended to make funds available for projects and activities directly related to the U.S. military's mission of protecting and advancing our nation's interests, the sponsors of Power IT Down Day will make a donation to the Wounded Warrior Project, to illustrate how the money saved on energy costs can be put to better use.

About the Authors

Tom Simmons is area vice president of public sector at Citrix Systems Inc.

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