Government Executive November 2012 : Page 10

Briefing TR AVEL E XPENSES GOING GREEN Orbiting on Per Diem The Biggest Loser Federal buildings compete to trim energy use. From automatic light dimming when it is bright outside to waterless urinals, the architects behind the renovation of the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Building in Atlanta have positioned it for gold. That’s gold as in LEED Gold certified— a rating the U.S. Green Business Council gives to buildings with environmentally friendly designs—and gold as in winning the Environmental Protection Agency’s Battle of the Buildings. In its third year, the National Building Competition awards federal and private sector partici-pants who show the biggest reduction in energy use over the previous year. The renovation of the 1930s-era MLK building, formerly a post office and now headquarters for the General Services MLK Federal Building goes for gold. The government gives federal travelers to Columbus, Ohio, $94 per day for lodging and $56 for food. Bound for Biloxi, Miss.? That’ll be $82 per day for shelter and $56 for grub. Go to the General Services Administration’s website and you can find a per diem rate for anywhere in the country (the State Department sets foreign per diem rates). But what if you’re going some-where out of this world? Astronauts receive a whopping $3.25 per day while in orbit, according to Nicole Cloutier, a NASA spokes-woman. That’s even less than the 1969 rate, apparently. Author Andrew Smith men-tioned the expense policies of America’s space pioneers in his book Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth (Harper, 2005). Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins received an $8 per diem during their historic 1969 trip to the moon, according to Smith’s book. “When they went to the moon, they received the same per diem compensation as they would have for being away from base in Bakers-field: $8 a day, before deduc-tions (like for accommoda-tion, because the government was providing the bed in the spaceship).” Kellie Lunney Administration’s Southeast Region, com-bined green technologies with historic preservation. “The sustainable rehabili-tation project has helped save a substan-tial amount of energy and should figure significantly into the building’s showing in EPA’s competition,” says Tyrone Pelt, an electrical engineer with GSA. More than 3,200 buildings, including nearly 600 federal properties, are com-peting in a variety of categories with the winners to be announced in April 2013. The competition is headed by EPA’s Energy Star program, which rates the energy efficiency of various projects. In 2011, competitors cut their collec-tive utility bill by more than $5 million. Eric Katz Civil War and Civil Service clockwise from top: nasa; zach rolen; Smithsonian Institution Archives To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the Smithsonian is featuring “Experience Civil War Photography: From the Home Front to the Battlefront,” which showcases the agency’s role during the war. The exhibit, which will run through August 2013, includes this 1891 photo of staff members of the Bureau of International Exchanges, which facili-tated exchanges of official publications with foreign countries. Solomon G. Brown (second from left), born a free man and self-educated, was the Smithsonian’s first African-American employee. 10 gov er nment ex ecutiv e | november 2012

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