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Tackling the Federal Energy Dilemma – Mission Impossible?

Federal agencies are faced with an energy dilemma. There are many factors contributing to this dilemma – looming mandates, mission vulnerabilities, limited capital, to name a few. Tackling this dilemma seems a daunting task, mission impossible to some. You might recall this memorable quote from the movie “Mission Impossible II”,

Mission commander Swanbeck: “Well this is not mission difficult Mr Hunt, its mission impossible. Difficult should be a walk in the park for you.”

And so, too, I think federal energy managers have the skill and resolve for mission impossible ; mission difficult would be a walk in the park.

In this first in the series of blogs on this subject, I define the mission…

 Your mission (should you choose to accept it )

  • Comply with energy and sustainability related mandates for federal facilities – EPAct 2005, EISA 2007, executive orders, like 13514, and more. For more information on these mandates see my colleague Miles Auvil’s blog on federal energy legislation.
  • Focus, for this mission, on buildings energy use, accounting for about 35% of total energy consumption, 600T BTUs of energy per year at a cost of over $7B to the American taxpayer. That’s nearly 400,000 diverse buildings, serving unique purposes to sustain the core missions of hundreds of agencies.
  • Achieve the goals of the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI) to improve efficiency and reduce operating cost. That means consolidating over 6000 data centers, most of which consume 50 – 100x the energy per square foot as office buildings. According to a 2007 Environmental Protection Agency report, accounted for about 10% of nation’s total data center electricy use as of 2006.
  • Enhance energy security – Energy is vital to agency missions, vital to protecting against disasters and vital to recovery when disasters occur. The commercial grid is fragile, near its capacity and vulnerable…vulnerable to physical and cyber attacks, interruptions in fuel supply and weather related events. The traditional assumption that commercial power is reliable and subject to only infrequent and short term outages is far from reality.

In completion of this mission, agencies are confronting an aging, often inefficient, buildings portfolio that the Government Accountability Office has repeatedly sited as a problem for agencies. In addition, in this age of digitization, the availability and security of mission critical IT must not be compromised. Finally, no additional funds have been appropriated for this mission. In fact, appropriations will likely fall far short of closing the gap between investment needed and the available funds.

So, how will government agencies accomplish this mission? Scale back core missions? Ignore vulnerabilities? Or, do as much or more while using less energy and emitting fewer GHGs?

Luther: “Are you sure we can do this?”
Ethan Hunt: “We’re going to do it.”

Stay tuned for future blogs as I provide energy management insights to help agencies accomplish “mission impossible”.


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