GSA's LEED Certification Requirements Remain In Place

By Greg Zimmerman, Executive Editor  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: GSA Continues On Road To Net Zero Energy BuildingsPt. 2: ESPCs Are Critical Piece Of Efforts To Get Government Facilities To Net ZeroPt. 3: This Page

GSA Re-Ups LEED, Controversy Ensues

Since 2003, the General Services Administration has required LEED certification for all new facilities — at first Silver, now Gold. As of late August, 2013, the organization had 110 LEED certifications.

»» This past May, GSA's Green Building Advisory Committee (GBAC), made up of both federal and private sector green building experts, recommended that GSA continue to use LEED as its green building rating system for at least the next five years. According to language in 2007's Energy Independence and Security Act, GSA is required to review its green building rating system every five years — a requirement fulfilled this year.

»» "We did a very complete and deep review of LEED, Green Globes, and the Living Buildings Challenge," says Victor Olgyay, principal at Rocky Mountain Institute and a member of GBAC. "Our goal was to evaluate what would deliver the highest performing buildings. It came down to a series of votes, and in the end LEED was the choice. We felt it would be the most beneficial rating system, and we thought having a consistent rating system would provide the best results in terms of high performance buildings."

»» Opponents of LEED reacted swiftly to the decision — using their considerable lobbying muscle to introduce amendments to existing bills in Congress that would, for different reasons, essentially eliminate LEED as a possibility for the government's rating system of choice. As of press time, there had been no vote on the bills on which the amendments have been proposed — one of which is the Shaheen-Portman Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, a broadly supported bi-partisan bill that would raise energy efficiency standards in building codes and provide financing to states for energy efficiency updates to buildings.

»» The pushback to the pushback was also swift. In July, Skanska USA, one of the largest construction firms in the country, resigned its membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to protest the anti-LEED lobbying. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a member of the American High-Performance Buildings Coalition, the chief opposition to LEED.

»» "The government has consistently made the choice for LEED," says Melissa Gallagher-Rogers, director, technical solutions for the U.S. Green Building Council. "It's unfortunate that these amendments are a distraction from the end goal of getting to better buildings."

— Greg Zimmerman

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  posted on 10/11/2013   Article Use Policy

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