More than leadership, Powers demonstrates a commitment to learning about what is working and it is a goal of the Council to use that knowledge to replicate success stories. For example, on his tour of Denver, Powers also visited with leaders at the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) to discuss a joint federal/local government leadership team that created a sustainability challenge to increase conservation awareness, save natural resources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The team consists of the Department of Energy (DOE), the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 8 and the City of Lakewood. The sustainability challenge engaged employees with the goal of reducing carbon dioxide and educating local communities. Some of their successes include a 1 MW Denver Federal Center Grid (DFC)-Tied Photovoltaic Solar Park. The 6,192 panel site generates about 1,600,000 kWh per year – approximately 10 percent of the DFC's entire electrical demand. Retrofits for interior lighting have reduced electrical demand by 3,765 kWh per year. It is these types of strategies and partnerships that the Council on Environmental Quality is seeking to replicate, according to Powers.
For the federal government to meet mandates for reductions in energy use, water use and GHG emissions, however, mechanisms are needed. The government can leverage its buying power but there still need to be functional mechanisms to finance improvements and funding available for research and development and according to Powers, there are barriers.
Another challenge is lack of data necessary to design appropriate funding mechanisms. Powers noted Green Button as an innovative program directed towards data collection. According to www.greenbuttondata.org, “Green Button is an industry-led effort that responds to a White House call-to-action: provide electricity customers with easy access to their energy usage data in a consumer-friendly and computer-friendly format via a "Green Button" on electric utilities' website.” Accurate energy information can not only empower consumers to make educated choices around managing their energy use but also provide data that innovators can use to produce new consumer applications that address energy management needs.