Oklahoma opens national model for clean energy

  • May 22, 2023
  • Steve Rogerson

Grid-interactive and smart building technologies make the Oklahoma City Federal Building a national model for clean energy innovation and efficiency.

US General Services Administration (GSA) administrator Robin Carnahan visited Oklahoma this month for a ribbon cutting event to announce the completed installation.

“We are proud to deliver on GSA’s first project that demonstrates how we can transform federal buildings into high-tech clean energy hubs that dynamically interact with the grid, generate their own energy, and make the grid stronger and more resilient for the surrounding community,” said Carnahan.

The deep energy retrofit project was made possible through a utility energy service contract with Oklahoma Gas & Electric (OG&E) and its selected energy service company Esco Ameresco, encompassing the Oklahoma City Federal Building and four other Oklahoma federal buildings.

It should result in energy cost savings achieved through grid-interactive efficient building (GEB) technologies, a solar photovoltaic (PV) system, lighting controls, battery energy storage, and new HVAC controls.

The funding was supported through a grant from the Department of Energy and GSA appropriations totalling around $11m.

GEB technologies connect the federal building with the power grid in a way that dynamically adjusts with the needs of the grid to coordinate energy loads, manage energy demands and optimise energy use. The project is expected to reduce energy use by 41%, cut 3100 metric tons of carbon emissions, and save about $400,000 annually in energy and water costs at today’s prices.

“Oklahoma city has long been a home of energy innovation, and it is fitting for this model project to occur at our federal building,” said Oklahoma city mayor David Holt. “I thank the GSA for its investment here and Administrator Carnahan for her personal visit.”

Donnie Jones, vice president of utility operations for OG&E, added: “We are committed to providing our customers with reliable and resilient energy, and we were pleased to work with GSA to help them achieve their energy and sustainability goals. By advancing solar and wind energy in Oklahoma, we support innovative projects like this one that expand clean energy options for customers.”

And Nicole Bulgarino, executive vice president at Ameresco,” said: “We are grateful to be a continued partner to the GSA on this use of grid interactive and smart building technologies at an impressive scale. This project demonstrates tangible progress in the clean energy transition. We commend the forward-thinking leadership for this essential installation, which will result in the reduction of energy use, water consumption and carbon emissions all while increasing energy cost savings.”

The federal government aims to lead by example by sustainably managing its footprint of over 300,000 buildings, more than 600,000 vehicles, and $650bn spent annually on goods and services.

The completion of this project will help GSA continue on the path to achieve the net-zero-emissions buildings goal by 2045, leveraging smart investments, many funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act.

The GSA provides centralised procurement and shared services for the federal government, managing a nationwide real estate portfolio of nearly 34 million rentable square metres, overseeing approximately $75bn in annual contracts, and delivering technology services that serve millions of people across dozens of federal agencies.