Excel as a High-Performing Agency

Region 5 receives Environmental Protection Agency Federal Green Challenge Award for innovation

CALIFORNIA – A team comprised of USDA Forest Service Region 5 regional office, Los Padres National Forest and San Bernardino National Forest staff recently completed its 4-year Southern California Energy Savings Performance Contract ENABLE Project. The ESPC ENABLE contracting method is a streamlined procurement process allowing aggregation of small projects across multiple federal facilities to install energy conservation measures and renewable energy systems more efficiently. This innovative project is a great model for federal facilities with multiple, small to mid-size locations.

The project – the first ESPC ENABLE project to be completed in Region 5 and only the second to be implemented in the USFS – will reduce energy use by 80% across the project sites to save about 4,893 million BTU of energy and $225,000 in energy costs annually. The project took tremendous coordination because it covered energy upgrades at nine sites with 63 facilities across the Los Padres and San Bernardino National Forests in Southern California. The energy upgrades included:

  • Lighting upgrades
  • Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning controls
  • One-for-one HVAC replacements, and
  • Small-scale solar photovoltaic system installations.

Project highlights include:

  • Net Energy Metering Aggregation: NEM Aggregation allows a single customer with multiple meters on the same property, or on adjacent or contiguous properties, to use renewable generation (e.g., solar panels) to serve the aggregated load behind all eligible meters. The Forest Service leveraged such an agreement with one of the utilities involved in the project to allow solar energy generated at one site to cover off-site facility utility costs. This enabled the ground-mounted system at Lytle Creek Ranger Station at the San Bernardino National Forest to be sized to produce excess energy to offset demand from 26 additional off-site Forest Service electricity accounts for Work Centers, Fire Stations, campgrounds, picnic sites, and lookout towers.
  • Partnerships: As a member of the former USFS Net Zero Network, the San Bernardino National Forest Supervisor’s Office obtained Washington Office funding in 2017 to upgrade their HVAC system. The Forest was able to secure this funding as a result of their engagement in the broader ESPC ENABLE project; together, the ENABLE project and HVAC system upgrade put the Supervisor’s Office on a path to a net-zero energy state. The USFS team also worked closely with the Department of Energy’s Federal Energy Management Program to develop and implement the Southern California ESPC ENABLE Project.
  • Line Officer Training: Before initiating this project, the project Program Managers traveled to all proposed sites and provided ESPC ENABLE “101” briefings for all local Line Officers. This communication increased project support and awareness of innovative energy efficiency and renewable energy project opportunities.

The Project will help Region 5 achieve its EPA Federal Green Challenge 5% Energy Target Area reduction goal in 2018. More information about this award is available in the EPA Region 9 Press Release.


The 123 kW ground-mounted photovoltaic system installed at the Lytle Creek Ranger Station was sized to offset the energy use of 26 additional Forest Service facilities. Forest Service photo.