Federal Government Looking Beyond LEED

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Beyond that, she does not believe the federal government will be able to meet some of its own carbon-emission goals and zero-net-energy building standards without turning to her organization’s formula and approach.

To gain certification under the Seattle-based Living Building Challenge, projects have to prove over a year’s occupancy that they can perform at net-zero energy, water and waste.

In the Federal Register, the GSA wants the national building sector to tell the federal government if it should continue to rely on third parties to create, evolve and monitor green-standards programs and compliance, and if it should do more to work with the standards-setting organizations to bring their programs into better alignment with federal needs.

The agency is also seeking professional thought on a potential federal strategy to set a national standard that defines specific “credits” or “points” that all federal buildings must gain regardless of which rating system they use. Then each agency could determine whatever rating standards worked best for its purposes and formally adopt those. The GSA asserts that the standards have sufficient flexibility to allow even sole-purpose or unusual federal buildings to be certified in some manner.

In the end, the GSA could embrace one program, multiple programs or none. The deadline for public comment is close of business April 8. A GSA decision is to come sometime thereafter, Dan Cruz, a GSA spokesperson, said in an email message.

The GSA has gained LEED certification for 46 of its owned buildings so far. According to a March 2012 review for the GSA by the Pacific Northwest National laboratory, more than 500 federal buildings have been certified under LEED and 40 under the Green Globes program. No buildings have been certified under the Living Building Challenge, though the National Park Service has registered two projects.

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