Earth Day Special with Kevin Kampschroer

April 22, 2021 U.S. General Services Administration Season 1 Episode 5
Earth Day Special with Kevin Kampschroer
Show Notes Transcript

Kevin Kampschroer, GSA’s Chief Sustainability Officer and federal director of the Office of federal high performance Green Buildings joins us to talk about the Biden Administration’s plans to confront climate change and what that means for the government. Turns out that GSA has a history in greening government.   

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[ Music ] >> Welcome to GSA Fast Focus, a look at what's happening in and around the U.S. General Services Administration's Federal Acquisitions Service. Today is Earth Day 2021, and the theme for this year is Restore our Earth. In just a few minutes, Kevin Kampschroer, GSA's Chief Sustainability Officer, and Federal Director of the Office of Federal High Performance Green Buildings, is going to join us to talk about the Biden Administration's plans to confront climate change, what that means for government. Of course, this is not an entirely new subject for the agency. GSA has a history in Green in Government. We'll also run down some of the webinars and CLP opportunities coming up in the next couple of weeks, and put a few fascinating facts in Fast Focus. [ Music ] >> Welcome back to Fast Focus. A look at what's happening throughout GSA's Federal Acquisitions Service. I'm Joan Kornblith [assumed spelling]. In just a couple of minutes, I'll be talking with Kevin Kampschroer about sustainability at GSA, and what that means in the public building service, and for acquisitions. For years now, GSA has been on a mission to reduce not just its own use of natural resources, but to reduce the environmental impact of the entire federal government. That includes greening new buildings, and retrofitting old ones, and also impacts purchasing and operations. You know, it's a lot more than just buying new lightbulbs. But first, attention federal buyers! Open up your calendars to Thursday, May 6, that's when our next session of Mass Consolidation for the Federal Buyer is taking place. As I'm sure you know, mass consolidation is one of the four cornerstone projects of the Federal Marketplace Strategy GSA's planned to modernize and simplify the buying and selling experience for customers, suppliers, and of course, acquisition professionals around the world, GSA's new single schedule solicitation makes buying so much easier with a simplified format, and new streamlined terms and conditions, new large categories and sub-categories, and updated SINs, that's special item numbers. The new single schedule makes it easier to find the products, solutions and services that you need to meet your missions. This training covers everything you need to know about the new schedule and how to use it. Add it to your calendar now. Mass Consolidation for the Federal Buyer, Thursday, May 6,

from 1:00 p.m. to 3:

00 p.m., Eastern time.

That is a Noon Central start time, 11:

00 a.m. for our friends in Mountain time.

10:00 a.m., Pacific, 9:

00 a.m. in Juneau, Alaska, and if you are on Hawaiian time, set two alarms because class starts at 7:00 a.m. But you know it is worth it, because you will also be earning two CLPs. For more details and registration information, just visit [ Music ] >> Welcome back to Fast Focus, A Look What's Happening in and Around GSA's Federal Acquisition Service. I am Joan Kornblith, and joining me now is Kevin Kampschroer, GSA's Chief Sustainability Officer and Federal Director of the Office of Federal High Performance Green Buildings. And what great timing it is to be able to talk with you about the greening of government on Earth Day 2021. When I was digging in and doing research for this episode of Fast Focus, and took a look at Earth Days past, the first one was held 51 years ago in 1970, and I had to sit down for a minute when I saw that, because I do remember the very first Earth Day. I even found a drawing that I had made on that day, of the planet, with tears falling off of it. So yes, I was even overly dramatic as a small child. Along that theme, it looks like, thanks to the recent executive order on tackling the climate crisis at home and abroad, we may see some big changes again. Before we get into what that means for government on the domestic level and GSA in particular, Kevin, would you give us a little nutshell biography? How did you get to GSA, and where did your interest in sustainability and especially green buildings come from? When you were a little boy, did you wake up one morning and say I'm going to grow up and work for the U.S. government? >> You know, I didn't. However, I did think that I wanted to be an architect from an early age. I loved building things. I like putting things together. I never became an architect, because I thought I wouldn't be good enough at it. GSA had, when I got out of college, it was during the Nixon administration, there was a huge unemployment problem in the country. And I first started working for GSA in 1971, so right after you drew that picture. Then I came back full-time after I graduated from college in 1975. And I've been working here since then. So almost 47 years. I like GSA because of the variety of things it does. It touches all aspects of building and services, and I particularly like GSA, because we exist to serve other agencies and help them get their jobs done. So it's not just like going into to the private sector, where you're, you know, worshipping the motivation of money. You're actually motivated by how do you make the government work better? How do you help people get their jobs done? And that has satisfied me for a long time. >> Within days of taking office, President Biden signed an executive order on climate change. The proposed carbon pollution-free electricity sector by 2035, along with a government fleet made up of clean and zero emission vehicles, including postal service vehicles. Can you just give us a very, very broad overview of what the executive order on climate change will mean for government? >> You touched on two of the five main areas there. We're going to be working on carbon pollution-free electricity for the federal government by 2035. For the government, and for the buildings in particular, it means looking at how do we operate them in a way that is different? How do we quit burning fossil fuel in the buildings? How do we quit putting emissions into the air from the buildings? How do we go towards a more renewable energy electricity source across the country? And obviously you can't do this alone. So this is a-- all of government, but also an all of country initiative here. Because you know, if you're getting your electricity from a coal-fired plant, you know, we have to solve that problem too. Building solar and wind generation and then piping the electricity into the grid, and systematically getting cleaner as we go on. The second area is, as you mentioned, is the fleet, zero emissions vehicles. GSA is thinking about how many we can get, and how quickly we can get them, and how we get the charging infrastructure in for them. And recognize, too, that this is not an issue for GSA internally very much. We are the purchasing agent, though, for the federal government for vehicles. And as we are-- except for the postal service. The postal service is not technically the federal government anymore. But we purchase the cars. But they don't have electric vehicles, zero-emission vehicles for every different kind of vehicle that we use. And we like dirty trucks. It's the biggest single category and we're not quite there yet. But we will. And again, it's just systematic over time. We're looking at the areas that we can. And we're thinking that, you know, somewhere in the 120, 150,000 range, somewhere in there, there is probably a sweet spot for really getting some electric vehicles into the system, using the technology that is available now, and the charging infrastructure that we have available now. And then looking systematically with the management, budget and various agencies across the government to make that migration. The third big area is building emissions. But energy, water and waste, we're looking for doing a lot of changes in really ramping up that work. We did a lot of this work in the recovery act, at the beginning of the last in the Obama administration. And we learned a lot from that. We learned how we could measure things better. We learned how we could set contractors free to be innovative and really react to overarching goals, and say you know, do the best work that you can. And our job as contracting agents is then to figure out how to say yes, not to figure out how to say no. So that was a bit of a shift for GSA, honestly. And last, the fifth real work area is on climate adaptation and resilience. And if you think about what we're doing with climate, it's in two big buckets. One we talked about already, the mitigation. How do we do less to cause the environment to get worse? How do we put gases in the air? How do we green the fleet, how do we green the grid, and all of that? The other thing is, how do we plan for the inevitable? We know that we are seeing more storm events. We are seeing more severe storm events. We are experiencing different areas of draughts, parts of the country are experiencing severe draughts for multiple years, so how do we plan for that and make sure that we adapt to it as we go on? And there is a lot of adaptation that occurs, but it only happens if you really think about it, and you think about it consistently and you think about it with a long-time horizon. And running through all of that is environmental justice, racial equity, and these schemes are, you know, built into everything that we do. We want to make sure that we are taking that into account. That we are not disadvantaging, that we already know that, you know, there's a reason that the phrase the wrong side of the tracks has sort of the meaning that it does in the vernacular. It's because people with fewer resources got stuck living in places that were less desirable. And those less desirable places, you know, tend to be more polluted, and less service, and they're trying to make sure that nothing we do makes things worse and that everything that we do has a goal of making things better for those disadvantaged communities. And there are lots of them in this country. >> I'm Joan Kornblith, and you're listening to GSA Fast Focus. If you've got questions about anything that you're hearing today or someone you'd like to hear featured on this program, just send us a note. The email address is GSA Fast Focus, at That is GSA F-a-s focus at We are talking today with Kevin Kampschroer, GSA's Chief Sustainability Officer, and Federal Director of the Office of Federal High Performance Green Buildings. And we've already talked a little bit about the new executive order on climate change, and what that will mean for government as a whole, but the greening of government isn't really a new idea for GSA. Is it? I mean, more than a decade ago, you were already talking about the need to improve energy efficiency for federal buildings, but there is a lot more to going green than just that, especially when we're dealing with climate change. Can you tell us a little bit about a few of the really innovative buildings that GSA has already put up? Either the new construction or the renovations that you've done. I know we have a few that are called net zero. >> One of the coolest buildings that we did is a net zero building. It's a story-- it's the first net zero building on the federal register of historic places. It's in Colorado, in Grand Junction. It has got a very fortunate climate. It has got 300 days of sun a year. And it's-- actually, even though it's in Colorado, it's in the high plains, it's relatively mild overall, but the thing, you know, there's an old-- so the question is, how do you make a building net zero, especially one that's old? The old buildings have some things that are really valuable that we tend to ignore. They have mass. They were built out of really solid materials. And that mass can be used to temper the changes in climate, and the changes in weather during the day. You know, it keeps the building a little bit cooler during the summer, you know, and warmer in the winter, because it doesn't-- the heat doesn't get in and out. That aside, every single major success we've had starts with a concept called integrated design. It's thinking about everything all at once, as a whole. That, all of these parts integrate with each other. In Grand Junction, in the Courthouse there, it started with how can we use the least amount of energy? So, reducing the load, talking with the clients, and they're saying, you know, how can we help manage your computer, so that they're not using as much? How can we manage the security equipment at the Courthouse? Lots of security equipment, so that it doesn't stay on when it doesn't need to stay on. So that was step number one. Step number two was then how do you really do the most efficient kind of heating, cooling, with a much reduced load, and starting out, another component of reducing the load is, how do you fix the envelope of the building, the enclosure? You know, the walls, everything. Turns out that these walls? That was an old building-- weren't insulated. So we put insulation in from the inside. The windows were made to operate because, again, this is a relatively mild climate there. And they were replaced with insulated panes, and so on. And then the-- [inaudible] uses what's known as a ground source heat pump. So, it basically-- we talk to the county who had a parking lot next door. We dug up the parking lot, put a lot of wells in the parking lot. Fluid circulates in those wells, and it basically, the ground stays the same temperature year round, so it's like, the heat pump works, you get both heating and cooling from it. It all depends on the difference in the temperature. So, we pumped the water in and out, and in the summer it cools, and in the winter it heats. And the ground stays the same temperature all of the time, and then we would pave the lot, of course, for the county. And so then that was all done, you had a building that used to be, let's say, I don't want to throw technical terms into it, let's say it had an index of 100 in terms of how much energy it used. We got that down to 20. And then, and only then, did we put solar on the roof, because we didn't have that much to do. Then we had that problem of it's a historic building, you can't see the solar from the street, because that would ruin the historic quality. So we sort of hid it in the back. Still managed to do it. And it hits net zero pretty often. But it's that integrated design, thinking about everything at once. >> What do you think some of the greatest challenges facing GSA in terms of sustainability are? The biggest challenge we have with building sustainability is that for a decade we had been under-funded in repair and maintenance, and as buildings become stressed, and they go out of tune, it's very hard to set the priorities in a way that you can keep the building running and keep making improvements to it. So, the challenge is really how do you make sure that everything that you do almost has fit into a master plan of how I want to reposition this building over time? I think that's quite a challenge. It's not something that we're prepared to do in every building, in every place. But it is one of the things that we are taking on. You probably saw on the news that there is a special interest fund that is in the President's budget request that we will be looking at to help us, you know, target investments in buildings to address the climate issues across the board. The other challenge is sometimes it's more expensive to fix things right than to just fix them the way they are. So I'll take an example. In a lot of cases, building systems were built for the worst case scenario. The week of zero degree weather that goes on and on, and never gets above freezing all day long, and so we have all of the systems in the building size for that. Well, for 300 days a year, that's overkill. So if that kind of system, that kind of boiler goes out, it's really hard to replace it systematically with a series of smaller boilers that are spread out, or heat pumps, or something that is throughout the building, but does it a little bit better with modern technology, because you've got a building with people in it, and you need to repair it. And so the tendency is to repair as is, as opposed to really rethinking every possible time. How do you fix this for the long side? And there's also a tendency to do things the way we have been doing them. And we need to really be inquisitive as we go forward. We need to use the things that we're learning. We have a great, we have a great program called the GSA proving ground. They're testing new technologies, all of the time, and the, the trick is that alright, we've tested the technology. It really works. How do we get the word out to people we've had one great success with that. With Maglet Motors. You know? And they're much more efficient. And it took a little while, but now it's a great thing. Because that's an easy one for one kind of replacement with a new technology that works better, is more efficient, is quieter, and better controlled and we can systematically change those things out, and chillers, and other places. That's a great example of doing it smart, and getting better as we go. It's flown under the radar. I mean, when's the last time anybody said hey, did you see that cool Maglet motor [laughter]? No. You can't-- you can't see it from the outside. You can't feel it from the inside, but it's there, and it's working. >> You're listening to Fast Focus, from the U.S. General Services Administration. I'm talking with Kevin Kampschroer, who is GSA's Chief Sustainability Officer, and we are not ignoring the topic of greening the GSA fleet, but we've got the GSA Fleet Office coming in in just a couple of weeks, so we're going to leave that to them. Green Acquisitions, though, is something that people have been talking about for a while. What does that really mean? I mean, it's not just buying non-toxic cleaning products. >> I'm glad you mentioned non-toxic cleaning products, because GSA and EPA were the pioneers in really getting non-toxic in the early 90s. But the first time we established a schedule of non-toxic cleaning products in GSA, and started incorporating them into the GSA cleaning contract. So that's not something that should be overlooked. It's a little GSA win that very few people remember, and it's something that we've done, and we've kept doing. But then you take the same thing and you say alright, what does that mean today? How do we know everybody who is cleaning our buildings right now is working under a contract? How do we make sure that they're using the right material that they're not accidentally going back and using the more toxic materials which very often are more expensive, but they're more common. It's a little bit like people using anti-bacterial soap all the time. It's a bad idea. So the pandemic has caused a lot about the fact that, you know, plain soap and water is a marvelous thing. What a lot of people don't realize, too, is you don't really need scalding hot water, at all. >> Absolutely. >> So it really works fine in the coolest temperature that feels comfortable to your skin. So don't waste the money heating the water, because it's not going to get things any cleaner or less clean. It's not going to rinse your hands any quicker or less quick. And we have a tendency to want to rinse things too fast, anyway. Let's take 20 seconds, and get the hands nice and clean, and so on. So a piece of sustainable acquisition is, in fact, making sure that we are buying non-toxic products, and that we're buying, and we talked a little bit about the building and the technology program. It's about targeting the purchases so you are buying things that are contributing to the sustainability of the projects you're doing. That's not what we traditionally think up as sustainable acquisition, but it is. It's a component of it. I think what we're going to be seeing in this particular plan coming out is what a more comprehensive look that looks at things like that. You know, how are we making sure that we're targeting the project, the products that are going to improve the sustainability of the products we make with them, like buildings, or automobiles, or so on. How are we going to make sure that we buy the things, whether they're automobiles, or soap, or someone that are, in fact, in themselves sustainable, and then how do we deal with companies that are more sustainable rather than less sustainable? And then how do we encourage our suppliers in a broad set of ways? How do we encourage them to look at their own supply chain? How do we make sure that the people who are supplying us are being supplied. And we look down the supply chain, and make sure that we're getting that. We've had a real interesting experience with this whole issue of supply chain, in dealing with this cyber security and devices made by certain Chinese companies that we're not allowed to buy anymore. And so you begin to see with that kind of thing, the complexity of the modern supply chain. It has tentacles all around the world. And so learning that, and so it's really going to be, I think, a broader look at the sustainability of procurement in general, as opposed to, you know, buying Energy Star product. Now. That said, you should still buy Energy Star products. >> Well, I think we're at the end of the line for today, but is there anything that we have not talked about yet that you think that we need to cover, about what GSA, and about what government is doing about climate, and climate change? For now, we can always have you come back and talk about more, because there is always something new in this field. >> I think we skimmed the surface of the topic. I'm glad that we talked about a number of different things. I'm glad we had the-- it's a fairly hefty emphasis on health, because I think that's really important. It sort of brings the message back that the reason that GSA exists is to serve other people in other agencies. And certainly does that more intimately than anything else. I guess I want to just plug, leave one plot. We did a study of 200 buildings, 200 buildings that meet the guiding principles for sustainable federal buildings, and I mean 100 that do, and 100 that don't. And it was remarkable, as you would expect, the sustainable buildings used less energy, 23% less water, 28%, and you would not expect that they cost less to operate overall. They didn't cost anymore to upkeep and maintain or in capital projects, and it didn't cost any more than a regular building to get them in this shape. So it was all about making those systematic decisions over time with the right goal in mind. And they had higher satisfaction. Not a lot, but a little bit. And last but not least, less waste into the landfill. So, it's a program that works, and can work, and we just need to keep making it work. And I think we'll do that. And I'm looking forward to being around, and seeing another four years worth of really fascinating progress in this area. >> It's going to be exciting seeing what happens in the near future with all of this. If you've got any questions for Kevin, or would like to learn more about any of the things that we've been talking about, or you just want to drop us a line, the address is GSA Fast Focus at Coming up, news of another great training opportunity and some fascinating facts. I'm Joan Kornblith, and you are listening to GSA Fast Focus. [ Music ] >> Welcome back to Fast Focus. A look at what is happening throughout GSA's Federal Acquisition Service. I'm Joan Kornblith, and as always, we have got a full plate of fast specific webinars and trainings coming up. I am joined now by our Producer, Max Tempora, who is here with information that will answer all of your burning questions about the many facilities, maintenance, and facilities management solutions that are available on the multiple award schedule. Am I right? >> That's right, Joan. I think this is a great training opportunity given what we've just been talking about with Kevin. This one hour introduction to GSA's facilities maintenance and management schedule takes place

on Wednesday, May 12, starting at 1:

45 p.m. Eastern, and runs for one hour. The course is intended to give you a better understanding of the solutions that are available, and the ordering options and flexible features. They're promising some helpful tips on how to use the facility maintenance and management schedule to gain access to more than 600 contractors. >> Ooh! And this is a one hour session. But wait! There's more. >> There is, and I think this is important. You will also receive one CLP for attending. Again, this webinar will be held from 1:45 to 2:45 p.m. Do you want me to do the time conversions, or are you up for it today? >> Oh no, no, no, let me, because you know I love this part. It is better than doing a crossword puzzle, for keeping my brain active.

Let's see, 1:

45 p.m. eastern time. They are trying to trip me up by not starting at the top of the hour, 1:45 Eastern Daylight Time.


45 a.m. for my friends in Pacific Daylight Time, 11:45 Mountain time [music begins],

correct, 12:

45 Central Time, and if you are in Tokyo,

it is 2:

45 a.m. You are truly a dedicated employee for getting up early for this training session. I'm Joan Kornblith. Coming up on Fast Focus, we have got a few fascinating fast facts for you. [ Music ] >> Welcome back to GSA, Fast Focus. I'm Joan Kornblith, along with Max Tempora. We are almost out of time for today. But we do want to leave you with a few fascinating fast facts. This time, about GSA fleet, which is going to be the subject of an upcoming edition of Fast Focus. Since it's Earth Day, let's talk about the greening of the GSA Fleet. You know, we talked earlier about the executive order that proposes a government fleet, including postal vehicles, made up entirely of clean and zero emissions vehicles. How much do you really know about ZEVs? >> Very little, Joan. I-- >> Okay, well, believe me, I have learned something recently about ZEVs. I've been doing my homework. ZEVs or Zero Emission Vehicles, really are any light duty vehicle, or light duty truck, or even a heavy duty vehicle conforming to zero emission vehicle standards that were set forward in the Code of Federal Regulations. So, there are rules. Specific rules. Today, the GSA Fleet offers three distinct vehicle types that are considered certain degrees of zero emissions. We have BEVs. You want to guess what that is? >> EVs. So that, so it's an electric vehicle, battery electric vehicle. >> Excellent! Excellent. Battery electric vehicles. These are all electric powered vehicles. That means no gas anywhere. They are powered exclusively by a battery and they produce zero tailpipe emissions. We have pHEVs. Now, you probably have seen these. I bet neighbors have them. You may even have one. >> Yeah, so these are really popular, and this is kind of what started the hybrid trend, like trend in America, so plug in hybrid electric vehicles, right? >> Right. So, they've got an electric motor, and they've got an internal combustion engine. So they used a gas and an electric motor and then something very rare, but we have them. FCEVs. >> Hmm, okay. I try to think of any other kind, so-- >> Oh, man. >> We've already talked about batteries, and we talked about plug-in hybrids. >> So let's go realy future, right, just so fuel cell maybe. >> Fuel cell, yes, you are right,. Fueled with pure hydrogen gas, and they produce no tailpipe emissions. These emit only water vapor, and warm air. FCEVs are powered when energy stored as hydrogen is converted to electricity by the fuel cell. Have you ever seen one? >> No, I haven't. >> I've seen one at the auto show, but that's it. >> Yeah, I was going to say, today, if I had to think, if I saw one, it would have been at the auto show, too. >> Mm-hmm. Well, currently GSA offers 15 different makes and models of BEVs, five makes and models of PHEVs, and one FCEV model. Combined our EVs have driven over 38 million miles. That is million, 38 million miles, using 12,746 megawatts of power, and that is equivalent to more than 94,000 lightening bolts. >> Wow! That's a ton of lightening bolts! >> I don't know who made-- yeah, I don't know who figured that out. I would have thought we would have gotten one of those trips to the moon or something, but instead, 94,000 lightening bolts. Those are all the fascinating facts I have for you today, but come back next time, because we will have more. And don't forget, if there is anything else FAS related that you would like to learn about, or someone that you would like to hear featured on Fast Focus, let us know! Send a note to GSA Fas Focus. Add, that is, I'm Joan Kornblith. I put the words together. Max Tempora is our producer. Domini Artis handles our social media. Thank you to Kevin Kampschroer for joining us in the studio this week. Fas Focus is a production of the U.S. General Services Administration's Office of Strategic Communication. [ Music ]