President Obama issued an Executive Order that warrants Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance in the construction and maintenance of more sustainable and efficient buildings. One of the proposed tools that could help federal agencies evaluate buildings and construction projects is a Green Building Certification System.
On May 3, 2012, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) released its initial review of three of the top existing Certification Systems in the US. The release of the report marks the first step in a broad ranging review process, which includes a public comment period. Once the process is eventually completed, GSA hopes a superior system will emerge to enable the customer agencies of GSA to better meet the standards set by the President’s Executive Order.
The US government is the largest energy consumer in the country. The government owns and leases real estate amounting to an area of about 3.4 billion square feet. The GSA governs the construction and leasing of nearly 10,000 federal government buildings. As part of the Energy Independence Security Act, the GSA is mandated to review the building certification systems used for evaluating the projects every five years.
Over 180 certification systems and standards were screened by an independent laboratory in April 2012 to establish the most applicable standards for energy efficient construction. GSA effectively shortlisted the certification systems, and three candidates passed the screening criteria. The finalist are the International Living Building Challenge, US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), and Green Building Initiative's Green Globes. However, the preliminary findings of the agency indicated that all three chosen systems did not fully cover all the Federal building requirements.
GSA proposes to hold public meetings to solicit feedback from the public on its systems review. It also plans to convene an interagency review panel that will assess and recommend steps to help meet the standards of the President’s executive order. The Department of Defense, the Department of Energy and the GSA will co-chair the inter agency task. Other agencies that have large real estate portfolios like the National Park Service, the Forest Service, the Department of State, and the Department of Veterans Affairs have also been requested to participate.
GSA plans to come out with its final recommendation of the green building certification systems by the fall of 2012. This will be preceded by a period of public participation and feedback on the findings of the review group.