Feds fixate on LEED as project benchmark

Sources: U.S. Green Building Council, Washington, D.C.; CP staff

The General Services Administration’s (GSA’s) Green Building Advisory Committee has officially recommended that the agency use the LEED green building certification system for all of its projects. The committee cites the LEED system as GSA’s best measure of building efficiency, energy and water use, and that the LEED standards are conducive to Energy Independence and Security Act compliance.

The Green Building Advisory Committee has evaluated more than 160 tools and systems since it began in 2011, and in February, GSA released a request for information (RFI) that publicly lauded the value of green building rating systems like LEED and asked for additional input into important issues that could help GSA accelerate and improve its green building work.

“Leaders in the public and private sectors continue to recommend LEED as the best choice for GSA to maintain its leadership status while improving sustainability, reducing energy and saving money for its buildings,” states USGBC Senior Vice President of Global Policy & Law Roger Platt. “Consensus-based and market-driven, LEED has been and continues to be invaluable to thousands of building professionals and remains the best option for the GSA and any governmental agency looking to save taxpayer dollars and increase energy efficiency.

“Every single time green building and LEED have been evaluated by our most prestigious institutions, like the National Academy of Sciences, the National Research Council and the National Laboratories, the practice has been shown to save taxpayer dollars and increase energy efficiency. Lawmakers should see these repeated conclusions and continue supporting public sector use of LEED.”

A study done by The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) found that GSA LEED-certified buildings used 25 percent less energy than the national average and cost 19 percent less to operate. GSA’s application of LEED has helped in the agency’s building efficiency efforts, and there are now more than 4,000 LEED certified government projects with another 8,000 in the pipeline as registered projects. A recent report from GSA shows the agency has successfully reduced its energy use by almost 20 percent since 2003 and water use by almost 15 percent since 2007.

Furthermore, in a letter to GSA in July 2012, 1,260 companies from the green building industry opposed deviating from LEED in federal facilities because such a change would add cost to the building and leasing process across the building industry.