LEED leads in government construction

A recent government study verified what many builders and developers across the country already know – buildings that have LEED certification save taxpayer money and have a lower environmental impact over time than buildings not certified by LEED.

The new study from the General Services Administration (GSA) examined LEED v4, the latest version of the green building rating system released in late 2013 by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The study found that LEED v4 aligns well with federal sustainability and green building requirements. The GSA is currently seeking outside input about how LEED certification is employed in public buildings before issuing a final recommendation on the government’s future use of LEED.

{mosads}However, there is already plenty of evidence that LEED makes a real and very positive difference. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is considered the gold standard for energy-efficient, eco-friendly and non-toxic building design. LEED certification is based on a voluntary, third-party rating system that creates greener, healthier and more energy efficient buildings.

When LEED is applied early in the construction process, a building achieves a bigger energy savings and a more positive environmental and community impact over time. LEED can also be used to update current structures. Not only does this make financial sense, but it helps to preserve and salvage historic landmarks.

Many government agencies already employ LEED to save money and extend the lives of aging government properties. Over the past 14 years, LEED has established an outstanding record of producing economic and environmental benefits in countless federal projects.

A prime example is the U.S. Treasury Building in Washington, D.C., portions of which date back to the mid-19th century, making it one of the oldest LEED-certified buildings in the world. Improvements to the historic building’s energy and water consumption are now saving taxpayers more than $1 million per year. That may seem small, but these savings add up over time. The Department of Defense has also adopted LEED certification in order to enhance and improve the efficiency of the many structures it has to maintain.

In addition, an expert panel of the National Research Council at the National Academy of Sciences evaluated the energy efficiency and sustainability standards used by the U.S. Department of Defense. It recommended that the Pentagon continue to use LEED for new buildings and renovations. It wrote: “The preponderance of available evidence indicates that green building certification systems and their referenced building standards offer frameworks for reducing energy and water use in buildings, compared to design approaches and practices used for conventional buildings.”

In short, LEED saves money and precious natural resources.

USBGC’s newest version of LEED makes the certification process more consistent with federal requirements than ever before. It is being coupled with USBGC’s Guiding Principles Compliance Initiative, which has been designed to assist government agencies determine how best to employ LEED without the burden of redundant reporting and red tape. The initiative prioritizes flexibility, support, verification, monitoring and ease of use. These updates to LEED create unprecedented support and clarity to agencies looking for ways to meet the environmental and energy efficiency goals set by the federal government.

In the years to come, USGBC has promised to remain engaged with the GSA and outside voices about how to improve the compliance and verification process even further. The GSA’s initial review is a strong indication that LEED remains on the right track for government, and we are confident this current review period will showcase this support as well.

Platt is president of the U.S. Green Building Council.


More Energy & Environment at The Hill News

See All
See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video