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It’s been a long and confusing year for people who track federal green building policies.
Between the military’s LEED battle and the loooong interagency review by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA)—both of which are sure to be complicated by sequester and politics in ways we don’t yet understand—we’ve had newsroom motion sickness for months.
A Friday press release from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), republished in Building Design + Construction and covered by Lloyd Alter at Treehugger, unfortunately hasn’t brought clarity to the conversation.
We’ve known for a while now exactly how the Green Building Advisory Committee (which, as its name suggests, advises GSA about green building policy) came down on the issue of LEED vs. other rating systems.
Committee member Greg Kats, president of cleantech investment firm Capital E, told BuildingGreen back in February, “There was a strong recommendation on the part of the congressionally mandated government advisory board that LEED is the most proven, most effective option.”
We didn’t report on his remarks because we were waiting on much bigger and more consequential news—namely, the recommendation of a different GSA committee, the one that does the green building certification system review.
Confused yet? You’re not alone. Federal News Radio even seems to conflate the two committees’ processes, and federal bureaucracy is their bread and butter.
In short, this is the difference between a small, standing committee advising GSA on its own buildings and a larger, ad hoc committee advising GSA on what GSA should recommend to all the other federal agencies.
That might sound like it amounts to the same thing, but it really doesn’t. Especially since, last we heard, GSA was asking for feedback from the public about its latest Solomonic brainwave: letting each agency decide for itself which rating system to use. So even if GSA keeps LEED for its own use, other agencies might just do as they please.
That’s kind of the status quo already—despite lobbyists’ attempts to portray LEED as having a “monopoly” in the federal government. To see which federal agencies are doing what, check out our chart of the Top Ten U.S. Government Building Owners.
We’re not at all sure why GSA chose this moment to release its news. Maybe the interagency review is almost over, and this is a way of preparing everyone for another solid LEED recommendation.
Or maybe they’re testing the political waters. As Lloyd Alter reported, it didn’t take long for trade groups to lash out about LEED… again. Could they be trying to gauge the industry reaction so they can craft their message for the bigger release?
Maybe?—but trying to decode Beltway dog whistles and shots across the bow is a fool’s game.
Let’s just all calm down and stock up on Bonine. And please remain seated with your seatbelt fastened until this maddening, wild, dizzying political ride comes to a full and complete stop.
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