Q&A with Kevin Kampschroer

Illustration by Melissa McGill

Kevin Kampschroer created the framework for which GSA responds to the challenges of greenhouse gas emissions reductions and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s mandate to move GSA’s Federal building inventory toward high-performance green buildings.

Q.When did you take over as the GSA Federal Director?
I have been the Federal Director for the GSA Office of Federal High Performance Green Buildings since the office’s inception in March, 2008. The Office was created by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

Q.What are the sustainability goals of the General Services Administration (GSA)?
GSA set goals for greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction, building energy efficiency, water efficiency, renewable energy use, percentage of green buildings, and GHG per mile for fleet. We benchmark these goals (and their sub-goals) across the Federal government. For example, one sub-goal is purchasing a certain percentage of alternative-fuel and electric vehicles. Another is conducting energy audits every four years on each of GSA’s larger buildings.

Over the last 10 years, GSA reduced the energy intensity of our portfolio by 32 percent, and we’ve set a goal of another 25 percent reduction in the next 10 years. Since 2008, we have reduced building GHGs by 43 percent, and by 2025, we are committed to reaching 54 percent, with a stretch goal of 73 percent.

Q. How many buildings does the GSA own and lease?
Currently, GSA manages just under 9,000 buildings, totaling 379 million square feet. Of that space, 51 percent is leased and 49 percent is owned. GSA owns about 1,500 buildings.

Q.Can you share some statistics on the number of federal buildings working toward sustainability measures?
In one sense, all federal buildings are working toward sustainability. GSA’s portfolio-wide goals affect every building. We are focused on targeting the best opportunities for improvement in water conservation, in energy reduction, in waste avoidance, and in improving the environment for the people who work in federal buildings. These focused efforts help increase impact on existing buildings while budgets in the federal government remain tight. GSA works diligently to maximize and leverage scarce capital—very few new buildings are being built, and very few whole building modernizations are being undertaken. And for the limited number of these projects, every one seeks very high performance across the sustainability spectrum.

Q.How many federal buildings are LEED certified?
Within the GSA federal building portfolio, a little over 130 of the buildings we own are LEED certified, and also 400 leases are LEED-certified buildings.

Q.What are some of the greatest challenges facing the GSA in terms of sustainability?
Complexity and capital are the greatest challenges facing GSA in terms of sustainability. As we develop high-performance buildings, they become more complex to use, operate, and maintain. We need to incorporate more disciplines, like behavioral economics and public health, to better understand how people use buildings, and how to tune buildings so people can be effective and healthy. We know we have opportunities to better utilize the buildings in our inventory, and we must pursue those opportunities. We will be increasing the value of buildings while reducing the number of them we need. We have to become more integrated with other disciplines (IT, for example) in a consistent manner.

Q.What do you see for the GSA’s future?
For GSA’s future, I see a leaner inventory of better buildings supporting work in new ways, and perhaps different ways we can only barely envision today.

We will have a much more detailed understanding of how buildings influence the health of the people using them, as well as new metrics that we will be using to maintain healthy workplaces.

Overall, I see sustainability as a special emphasis program fading into “the way we work.” It will be woven into the understanding—and practice—that buildings are a tool for people to use to work and live.