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State buildings chief says budget cuts are pratical

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POSTED: October 28, 2008 5:00 a.m.
The belt-tightening called for by Gov. Sonny Perdue is being accomplished with some astonishingly commonsense measures in Georgia government. The Georgia Building Authority followed the example of ordinary Georgians, who often must implement simple cost-cutting measures to make ends.
Among the measures was to adjust the thermostats in buildings on Capitol Hill operated by the Georgia Building Authority. Now, they are set at 78 degrees. The winter temperature will be 68. HVAC systems start up later and shut down earlier each day to further reduce consumption. The move will save an estimated $400,000 annually.
Then, the GBA conducted a thorough inventory of hardwire phone lines to ensure there were no lines in operation — and being billed — that were not being used, including old fax lines. Excess lines were identified and disconnected. A review of all portable telecommunication devices (cell phones and Blackberries) used by staff was conducted and non-essential devices were cancelled. The total estimated annual savings are $60,000. These are measures that can be implemented across state government, bringing even greater efficiency and savings.
After careful consideration, the GBA announced it would close the Capitol Education Building effective Nov. 1, 2008.  The Capitol Education Building is a popular venue for meetings and sessions because of its accessibility to the Capitol as well as its amenities, but operations of this building come at a hefty cost to the agency, the state and therefore taxpayers. GBA will realize an estimated annual savings of $160,000 as a result of this measure.
The GBA is reviewing all contracts to determine cost-savings opportunities. For example, by adjusting cleaning contracts to a reduced cycle of three days (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) instead of five days will provide annual savings of more than $500,000.
During the current fiscal year, lighting controls will be installed that will cycle lights off when rooms or office suites are unoccupied. The GBA will retrofit, replace or modify lamps and ballast in approximately 42,600 lighting fixtures on Capitol Hill. These lighting upgrades and controls will include installing new energy-efficient lighting fixtures, as well as modifying the existing fluorescent fixtures to increase their efficiency. Mercury vapor, metal halide high-intensity discharge fixtures, incandescent lamps, compact fluorescent lamps will all be retrofitted or replaced.
Additionally, the GBA is working to engage employees in a philosophy of energy conservation and cost savings. The authority just launched a “Bright Idea” program to solicit ideas. GBA will review all ideas specific to operations of the 48 downtown properties and will share basic cost-saving ideas with the public via its Web site.
Nearly 100 “bright ideas” have been submitted from Capitol Hill employees. Among them:
a. Reduce paper use by using both sides of the paper and consolidating to central print stations instead of multiple printers.
b. Unplug all electronics when not in use, including phone chargers, radios and other devices that draw power even when off.
c. Install rain barrels on all state buildings to capture water for landscaping needs.
d. Promote use of revolving doors instead of using the automatic doors.
e. Ensure computers are set to “sleep” after 15 minutes.
f. Cut off lights in offices when not in use and develop a culture where employees remember to cut off lights in meeting and conference rooms.
g. Promote telecommuting for jobs that can be done from home offices.
Not only are these ideas reasonable, but they can be implemented as cost-cutting and energy-efficient measures throughout state and local government.

Stancil, Georgia’s State Property Officer, leads the GBA and State Properties Commission and wrote this commentary for the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.
 

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