GSA Speaks: Green Options Expand and The Fate of LEED v4 Deferred to Another Day

Under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA), GSA is required to evaluate green building certification systems for use by federal agencies every five years.  Recently, the U.S. General Service Administration (GSA) completed its current review and provided updated recommendations to the Secretary of Energy. 

GSA sought and received extensive input in forming its recommendations, as discussed here.  There has been significant controversy about the potential use of the LEED v4 – the latest version of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification system, formerly identified as LEED 2012.

GSA’s recommendations include the following:

  1. Agencies should continue to use third-party certification systems.
  2. Agencies should choose between two certification systems:  LEED 2009 or the Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes 2010.
  3. Agencies should use credits that align with federal requirements:  Several agencies have identified credits within the certification systems that align with federal green building requirements.  In using a green building certification system, agencies should focus on credits that help meet federal requirements.
  4. Agencies should select only one system on an agency, bureau or portfolio basis.
  5. GSA should establish a process to keep current with revisions to the rating systems:  GSA proposes to work with other agencies within one year after a new system is finalized to discuss the revisions and whether the federal government should adopt the newest version.
  6. The federal government should participate in the ongoing development of green building rating systems:  Continuing to work with the systems will help them better align with the government’s needs.

Of particular interest is (1) the identification of Green Globes 2010 as an alternative to LEED, and (2) the apparent decision to put off to another day the controversial decision of whether to adopt LEED v4.    It is likely that the second question will be the subject of spirited debate over the next year.

Vicki R. Harding, Esq.

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