With sustainability front of mind, a new influx of funding will go toward completing three construction projects in the long saga of the Department of Homeland Security’s headquarters consolidation.
DHS and the General Services Administration will use a $288 million investment from the Inflation Reduction Act to build two new headquarters buildings, as well as a new parking garage, at DHS’ St. Elizabeths West Campus in southeast Washington, D.C., the agencies announced Thursday.
The IRA investment breaks down to $140.8 million for Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) headquarters; $80.8 million for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) headquarters and $67 million for a new DHS garage and gatehouse.
GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan said the consolidation project, using the IRA investments, will set a tone of sustainability for other future federal building projects, and build on broader sustainability goals from the Biden administration.
“It’s our job to make sure these buildings not only support good paying local jobs, but also do that in a way that is sustainable and cost-effective and efficient for the American people,” Carnahan told reporters at an on-campus press conference Thursday. “In the end, what we want is for this to be a model for what we can do here and around the country.”
GSA plans to reduce the carbon footprint of the new facilities “dramatically,” Carnahan said, by investing in LED lighting, direct digital control building automation systems, solar panels, occupancy and indoor air quality sensors and more. The projects will also use low carbon concrete, steel and asphalt for new construction, as well as repair and reinforce existing structures.
The project will additionally include installing electric vehicle charging stations at the new St. Elizabeths campus parking garage. GSA signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with utility company Pepco, with the goal of further decarbonizing the electrical grid for the nation’s capital.
Well over a decade in the making, and with more than $3.2 billion in congressional appropriations, the DHS campus at St. Elizabeths is the most ambitious federal building project since the Pentagon.
But the consolidation project has run into considerable budget and schedule challenges over the years, delaying construction and prompting several revisions of the campus master plan. Campus construction has dragged on for over 13 years, in part due to constraints in congressional funding.
The current estimate for the total completion of the project is 2027, while project planning began in 2007.
At the end of the project, the DHS campus consolidation effort will take the department’s total number of physical locations from 40, down to six, and reduce DHS’ footprint by over 1.2 million square feet. DHS estimates the consolidation project will bring a cost savings of $1.3 billion over the next 30 years.
“Bringing DHS, CISA and ICE together under one roof at St. Elizabeths will increase departmental mission cohesion and streamline inter- and intra-component collaboration, which helps make us stronger and better positioned to mitigate the new and evolving threats America faces,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said at the press conference.
For the new headquarters buildings, DHS and GSA expect construction to begin for CISA’s building in early 2024, and for ICE’s building in late 2024. The agencies anticipate 800 new jobs in the D.C. area will be available for work on the construction projects.
The two headquarters buildings combined will move approximately 6,500 DHS staff to the St. Elizabeths campus. Once construction is fully complete, St. Elizabeths will house more than 12,000 DHS employees.