By Andrea Vittorio | March 10, 2016 8:02PM ET

March 10 (BNA) -- The nation's chief sustainability officer has called on companies such as Johnson Controls and AECOM to help meet the federal government's energy savings goal before the Obama administration ends.

The president challenged the government, which is the single largest energy consumer in the U.S., to sign $4 billion worth of energy efficiency contracts by the end of 2016. So far, agencies have awarded $2.5 billion in contracts to energy services companies, resulting in a 930,000-ton reduction to the government's carbon footprint.

Those are “pretty big numbers,” Christine Harada, who oversees progress toward federal sustainability goals, said March 10 at a workshop put on by the National Association of Energy Service Companies. “But we're also a pretty big operation, and we have a lot more work and opportunity that we can do.”

Energy services companies are contracted to design, build and fund energy-savings projects for federal agencies, which pay them back over time with the money saved.

This kind of contracting is “key” for agencies that have ambitious efficiency targets but lack the budgets and staff to meet them on their own, Skye Schell, who supervises project services at the Energy Department's Federal Energy Management Program, said at the workshop.
Energy services companies also could help the government ramp up efforts to adopt renewable energy. Federal agencies currently get less than 9 percent of their electricity from renewable sources. Their goal is to reach 30 percent by 2025.

“Candidly, that makes me squeam.” Harada told Bloomberg BNA. “So I'm trying to figure out ‘how do I get there from here?’ ”

Need to Maintain Momentum

Energy savings contracting has come “a long, long way” since the government started using it two decades ago, Robert Johnson, senior vice president at Hannon Armstrong, said at the workshop. The company makes debt and equity investments in sustainable infrastructure projects.

Johnson said the president's 2010 challenge gave the industry a noticeable push.
This momentum should continue, “regardless of whether it's red or blue in the White House” after the 2016 election, Jeff Niesz, senior director of federal business development at Pepco Energy Services, a utility, said.

“Our business, our industry, the value we bring—energy efficiency savings, budgetary relief, resources—those things can and should be bipartisan topics that survive many administrations,” Niesz said at the event.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Vittorio in Washington at
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at

For More Information

More information on energy savings performance contracts is available at
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Date Posted: 3/28/2016