Federal buildings in Georgia getting $117 million in upgrades to cut climate contributions — and costs

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The Richard B. Russell Federal Building is seen in Atlanta on Saturday, July 21, 2012. Georgia is getting $117 million for energy and water efficiency upgrades at a dozen of its federal buildings to combat climate change. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

The federal government is spending $117 million on energy and water efficiency upgrades at a dozen of its buildings in Georgia.

It’s part of a larger government effort to cut down on the pollution that causes climate change, but by saving energy and water, it also saves taxpayer money, according to General Services Administration Administrator Robin Carnahan, who was in Atlanta this week to announce the investments.

“We’re doing it because it’s a triple win,” she said. “It’s good for creating jobs. It’s great for saving money. And it’s certainly good for making our planet healthier for our kids.”

The buildings in Georgia will get upgrades to their HVAC systems, boilers, transformers and lighting. The Richard B. Russell federal building in downtown Atlanta will get a wind turbine system called a Windwall installed on its roof to generate energy — the first of its kind to be installed on a federal building. And the GSA is testing out a window film from NGS, a Georgia-based company, that can reduce heat transmission through windows.

The GSA is one of the biggest landlords in the country, managing thousands of federal buildings. But the Biden Administration is broadening the building efficiency efforts to other agencies, too. The federal government-wide Climate Smart Buildings Initiative, which was announced on Wednesday, will get upgrades to federal buildings through private company partnerships. According to the White House, the program won’t need upfront funding from taxpayers.

“We have the ability through the management of the footprint and our procurement efforts to really make a difference,” said White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory, who was also in Atlanta for the announcement.

It comes as the Senate inches towards passing its climate, health care and tax bill, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Senate would take up the bill on Saturday.

Georgia Democratic Congresswoman Nikema Williams said she’s counting on her counterparts in the Senate to get it done.

“The frightening reality all of climate change is playing out right in front of our eyes, all over the country,” she said on Wednesday, as she thanked Carnahan and Mallory for coming to Atlanta.