Every five years, the US General Services Administration (GSA) is required to review the certification standards it uses to measure building efficiency, and once again, LEED has been recommended.
GSA, which governs all federal buildings, has required basic LEED certification since 2003 and LEED-Gold since 2010.
This time around there's plenty of pressure for the GSA to choose a less stringent industry-run system, Green Globes.
But GSA's Green Building Advisory Committee officially recommended LEED last week - as the best measure of building efficiency. They say LEED should be the primary vehicle to show how agency buildings use energy and water and that LEED standards are the most conducive to meet the Energy Independence and Security Act.
GSA has yet to make a decision on whether LEED will remain the certification system of choice, however. It is still reviewing third party certification systems - Green Globes and the International Living Future Institute's Living Building Challenge.
"The committee's vote serves as additional input in
our overall process of engaging the public and stakeholders in GSA's review of third-party green building certification systems. GSA's recommendation will be made this summer. Once GSA makes its recommendation this summer, it will then be considered by the Secretaries of Energy and Defense, along with multiple agencies that manage federal buildings. Following this
review, a decision will be made for the entire federal government," says Dan Cruz, a spokesperson for GSA.
There are now more than 4,000 LEED-certified government projects and another 8,000 are in the pipeline for registration. Because of this, GSA has cut energy use almost 20% since 2003 and water use by 15% since 2007.
The Social Services Administration Teleservice Center (Auburn, WA): LEED-Silver:
"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 of green building and LEED certification have been shown to save taxpayer dollars and increase energy efficiency," says Roger Platt, senior vice president of Global Policy & Law for the US Green Building Council.
Pushing for Green Globes
27 trade groups representing industries that supply the vast construction industry - including chemicals and plastics industries, are advocating for a switch to Green Globes instead of LEED.
It would be a "business-friendly and affordable alternative to LEED," they say.
If they can't convince the GSA to switch to Green Globes, they will try to sneak it into legislation.
Currently, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act is moving through the Senate and if it doesn't get filibustered, could voted on any day now.
It's a great bill that would help the US move toward a national building code, finance energy efficiency upgrades throughout the economy and train workers to be proficient in energy efficiency practices.
What better place to add an amendment that bans the federal government from using the LEED than a "green" bill with bipartisan support?
"They are carefully crafting an 11th-hour amendment that would require the federal government to only use green building rating systems that are American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-certified. This unprecedented governmental intervention is purposely designed to exclude LEED and create a monopoly for another system they fund and influence," reports BuildingGreen.
The industry coalition is positioning itself for lucrative markets from the federal government - the US General Services Administration and Department of Defense "net-zero" program - and the 400 cities and 39 states that currently require builders meet LEED standards.
The coalition's interests are solidly pro-industry and many members have taken issue with LEED in the past including the US Chamber of Commerce, the American Chemistry Council, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Vinyl Institute and the American Supply Association.
As part of the Defense Authorization bill last year, the House version prohibited the Defense Department from using funds to achieve LEED- Gold or Platinum, unless it could prove its efficacy through cost-benefit analyses or if there is no additional cost.
The military adopted green building principles back in 1998 before LEED even existed, and is now moving toward net-zero energy, water, and waste for all US installations.
President Obama's Executive Order 13514, "Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance," calls for new buildings to be net zero energy by 2030, and seeks a 30% reduction in water use and a 50% reduction in waste that goes to landfills.
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