Federal Buildings Promote Open Spaces, Conservation
Do you usually think of federal buildings as places to shop for fresh produce, listen to live music or enjoy a colorful art gallery? Perhaps not, but many people regularly do these things at federal properties across the country.
That's because some federal properties are open for events like farmers markets, concerts, book readings, lectures and more.
"We've had weddings, aerial dance shows on building facades, concerts, holiday markets and even an insect museum. We've seen a lot of creative uses at federal buildings," says Frank Giblin , director of the Good Neighbor Program at the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).
The program promotes public use of federal properties and works with federal agencies and local communities to locate federal buildings in places that minimize the environmental impacts of commuting and offer easier access to a wide range of employees, including those from low income areas.
Federal Buildings as Community Spaces
Nonprofit organizations and members of the public can use many of the country's 2,000 federal buildings for community events for low or no cost.
Some of these buildings might include a historic site such as the James R. Browning
U.S. Courthouse in San Francisco or a local Social Security or Veterans Affairs office. Others include lesser-known office buildings, warehouses, and laboratories.
Events that last fewer than 30 days are often free unless the building needs to pay for additional costs such as security, heating, air conditioning and trash removal. Long-term, commercial use is also available at some federal buildings for businesses like restaurants and stores.
Federal Buildings Help Protect the Environment
GSA works closely with local communities to make sure that, when possible, federal buildings are designed, built, renovated and managed in a way that protects the environment. GSA's Good Neighbor program works to promote the location of federal buildings in neighborhoods that minimize commute times and distances for employees by choosing locations that are easily accessible by public transportation, bicycles and pedestrians. Shorter commutes and less need to rely on employees driving to work protect the environment by reducing traffic congestion and improving air quality.
Through the Good Neighbor Program, GSA works to make federal buildings more open to the public and to create policies that promote the use of federal properties while protecting the environment.
"These are public buildings," says Giblin, "And we want to make sure that the actions we take as an agency keep them as public as possible and provide great benefits to communities."
How to Use a Federal Building
Because federal properties vary in size, functionality, security and location, it can be tricky to figure out which ones are best for public use. You can find that out by contacting the on-site property manager of the building you're interested in. The process for obtaining a permit is easy and usually includes:
Filling out a page with basic information and copies of material that will be displayed or distributed during the event
If approved, you will get a permit within 10 days of the date you applied
Where to Learn More
Visit GSA.gov for more information on the Good Neighbor Program or contact the federal building manager closest to you if you are considering organizing an event on federal property.
Also, you may contact your local representatives if you have issues with federal real estate. You can visit an inventory of properties owned or leased by GSA and find information on how to contact the agency's regional staff.
Major move forward for UK’s nascent marine energy sector
Although the industry is small and the technologies are limited, marine-based energy systems look to be taking off as “the world’s most powerful tidal turbine” begins grid-connected power generation at the European Marine Energy Centre.
At around 74 metres long, the turbine single-handedly holds the potential to supply the annual electricity demand to approximately 2,000 homes within the UK and offset 2,200 tonnes of CO2 per year.
Orbital Marine Power, a privately held Scottish-based company, announced the turbine is set to operate for around 15 years in the waters surrounding Orkney, Scotland, where the 2-megawatt O2 turbine weighing around 680 metric tons will be linked to a local on-land electricity network via a subsea cable.
How optimistic is the outlook for the UK’s turbine bid?
Described as a “major milestone for O2” by CEO of Orbital Marine Power Andrew Scott, the turbine will also supply additional power to generate ‘green hydrogen’ through the use of a land-based electrolyser in the hopes it will demonstrate the “decarbonisation of wider energy requirements.”
“Our vision is that this project is the trigger to the harnessing of tidal stream resources around the world to play a role in tackling climate change whilst creating a new, low-carbon industrial sector,” says Scott in a statement.
The Scottish Government has awarded £3.4 million through the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund to support the project’s construction, while public lenders also contributed to the financial requirements of the tidal turbine through the ethical investment platform Abundance Investment.
“The deployment of Orbital Marine Power’s O2, the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, is a proud moment for Scotland and a significant milestone in our journey to net zero,” says Michael Matheson, the Cabinet Secretary for Net-Zero, Energy and Transport for the Scottish Government.
“With our abundant natural resources, expertise and ambition, Scotland is ideally placed to harness the enormous global market for marine energy whilst helping deliver a net-zero economy.
“That’s why the Scottish Government has consistently supported the marine energy sector for over 10 years.”
However, Orbital Marine CEO Scott believes there’s potential to commercialise the technology being used in the project with the prospect of working towards more efficient and advanced marine energy projects in the future.
“We believe pioneering our vision in the UK can deliver on a broad spectrum of political initiatives across net-zero, levelling up and building back better at the same time as demonstrating global leadership in the area of low carbon innovation that is essential to creating a more sustainable future for the generations to come.”
The UK’s growing marine energy endeavours
This latest tidal turbine project isn’t a first for marine energy in the UK. The Port of London Authority permitted the River Thames to become a temporary home for trials into tidal energy technology and, more recently, a research project spanning the course of a year is set to focus on the potential tidal, wave, and floating wind technology holds for the future efficiency of renewable energy. The research is due to take place off of the Southwest coast of England on the Isles of Scilly