As DoD rethinks its green building needs, a recommendation to keep using LEED is just the tip of the iceberg.
This post is the first in a series on the federal government’s use of green building certifications. Part 2: Sustainable Federal Buildings: What's the Law?
This shows the first few megabytes of the Unified Facilities Criteria documents found on the Whole Building Design Guide.
The list goes on...but the standard still includes LEED, for now.Photo Credit: WBDG, screen capture
Special-interest groups have been fighting the LEED rating systems on multiple fronts ever since LEED got a foothold in government policymaking. These groups (primarily chemical manufacturers and timber interests) are making headway.
LEED still matters, for now
Despite these pressures, along with LEED’s weakness as a policymaking tool (like all voluntary rating systems, it really doesn’t work as a mandate unless the government is explicit about credits and energy performance targets that must be achieved), a recent report recommended that the Department of Defense should continue with its current certification policy: LEED Silver or equivalent.
DoD’s updated Unified Facilities Criteria (UFC), hot off the press, has stood by that recommendation for new construction:
In accordance with OUSD AT&L Memorandum, “Department of Defense Sustainable Buildings Policy”, DoD Components will design and build all new construction and major renovations projects: 1) in compliance with the Guiding Principles, 2) third-party certified to the US Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver level (or approved equivalent rating), and 3) achieve no fewer than 40% of the certification points related to energy and water conservation. In addition, all repair and renovations projects must conform to the Guiding Principles where they apply. [emphasis added]
How important is it for the military to keep using LEED? For the sake of public perception, it’s extremely important: if DoD thinks LEED is the best way to ensure green building design and construction quality, then a lot of other people will too.
On the other hand, LEED does not—and was never meant to—meet all of the military’s building needs. They’ve got a lot of other things going on, from carbon requirements to energy performance reporting to enhanced security needs, and their UFC documents are a great demonstration of the difference between building codes or standards (like the IgCC and ASHRAE 189.1—both of which USGBC helped develop) and building rating systems (like LEED).