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Rather than releasing its final report on LEED and other rating systems, the agency posts recommendations and asks for more feedback.

A victory for lobbyists? It should be easier to pitch the industry status quo to individual federal agencies that don't specialize in buildings.

Want to have a say in whether federal agencies keep using LEED? Here’s your chance.

Following up on a 2012 report, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) is requesting public comments on its long-awaited recommendations about green building certification systems. Here’s our quick-and-dirty summary of the committee’s findings. You have sixty days to get back to GSA.

Green building ratings systems = good

The first finding is that green building rating systems are a good thing. They “maintain robust, integrated frameworks of performance metrics, standards and conformity assurance.” And using them saves taxpayers money “by eliminating the cost to Government of developing its own standards.”

Agencies should pick what works for them

The GSA isn’t going to tell you whether LEED, Green Globes, or the Living Building Challenge is the best rating system for each agency’s mission. But they want agencies to keep these things in mind:

  • There should be specific guidance about which credits to pursue (we might call this the “bike rack clause”?).
  • For efficiency, agencies should use one rating system across their portfolios.
  • Each agency’s guidance should make it possible for the same rating system to be used for all building types.

Each agency should review its own rating systems

GSA is mandated to do an interagency review of green building rating systems every five years (that’s the process they are finishing up now). With this recommendation, they’re suggesting that all the agencies need to stay current with evolving programs between interagency reviews.

They also recommend that other agencies with big building portfolios set up a similar review process to ensure the chosen system continues to meet its needs.

The federal government should help develop rating systems

Finally, GSA recommends that the federal government should be working with groups who develop the rating systems to ensure that they align better with federal standards as they evolve.

Huh?

We’ve been expecting GSA to release its final report for several months now, so having the recommendations released in this form, and without recommending a specific system, was something of a surprise.

The political atmosphere around GSA’s previous reliance on LEED has heated up, and it looks like GSA wilted. The new policy (subject to comment) would abandon a single endorsement of a rating system and leave federal agencies with the task of making a choice. If this is how GSA responded to political pressure, we can only imagine how individual agencies will respond.

The deeper reasons for this approach are not yet clear, but watch this space for an analysis as we learn more. Meanwhile, let us know what you think of the recommendations in comments.

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Comments

1 Meanwhile, in Europe... posted by Andrea Lemon on 02/05/2013 at 01:19 pm

How disappointing that the US government seems to be taking a step backward while the folks in Europe are embracing far more rigorous standards. In Bavaria, for example, all new-construction administrative buildings will meet the Passivhaus standard. Numerous other German cities have the same requirement, and Belgium is following suit.

Source: International Passive House Association

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