WASHINGTON, D.C. — On March 19, the White House announced  Executive Order 13693—Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade. Building on the goals set forth in E.O. 13514 (2009), the new order calls for a 2.5 percent annual reduction in energy use and a 2 percent annual reduction in water use through 2025.

In support of these ambitious performance goals, GSA’s Green Proving Ground (GPG) program recently published the results of three evaluations of technologies with the potential to cost-effectively reduce the energy and water use of our federal buildings.

Two of these technologies—wireless pneumatic thermostats and wireless soil moisture sensors for irrigation control—use wireless networks to bring real-time data and control to traditionally static systems. The third—catalyst-based non-chemical water treatment—leverages basic chemistry to resolve calcification, a ubiquitous challenge in facilities management.

Soil moisture sensors

Wireless soil moisture sensors were tested by GPG on 1.1 acres of landscape at the Young Federal Building in Orlando, Florida.

With severe drought in the Western states, water conservation is more important than ever. Smart controls for landscape irrigation use live data to determine real-time watering needs, with potential water savings of 20 to 40 percent compared to timer-based systems.

In 2013, GPG commissioned Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to assess two forms of smart irrigation controls. In January, GPG released the results of its assessment of weather-based smart irrigation at the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center in Battle Creek, Michigan.

This month, GPG published the outcomes from its evaluation of a pre-commercial wireless soil moisture sensor-based smart system at the George C. Young Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Orlando, Florida.

Compared with weather-based systems, sensor-based controls offer the potential for more precise measurement of watering needs, particularly in landscapes with varied topography or soil types. While stability issues challenged the early-production system installed in Orlando, the report presents lessons learned and economic analysis in support of potential future evaluations of commercial sensor-based irrigation control systems.

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