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LEED Certifications for Federal Buildings Rise More Than 50%

The number of federal LEED-certified projects has skyrocketed about 51 percent this year, from 544 completed in 2011 to 821 in just the first eight months of 2012, the Federal Times reports.

US Green Building Council director for technical policy Lane Burt says the growth in LEED-certified federal buildings mirrors private-sector development, and told the Federal Times that both have learned to better incorporate green building design as a standard part of the construction process.

In one recent project the US General Services Administration partnered with NASA on its new LEED-Platinum certified Langley Research Center (pictured) in Hampton,Va., with sustainability features expected to save $2.5 million annually.

The surge in LEED certification comes as the US Green Building Council allows the building industry to weigh in on its proposed updates to the green building program, dubbed LEED v4.

The USGBC is accepting comments on the proposed construction standards via its website until Dec. 10; it will begin the LEED v4 beta testing period in November and the updated rating system is slated to launch in 2013.

LEED has long been the standard for environmental building practices in the private and public sectors. The GSA calls it the “most credible rating system available to meet GSA’s needs,” and in 2010 increased its minimum requirement for new construction and substantial renovation of GSA-owned facilities from LEED Silver to LEED Gold.

GSA is currently reevaluating its green building rating system as it’s required by law to do every five years, and in August issued a report on three facilities certification systems: Green Globes, LEED and the International Living Building Challenge.

Trade groups from the plastics, vinyl and chemical industries, including the American Chemistry Council, The Vinyl Institute and the Resilient Floor Covering Institute have lobbied to stop the GSA from adopting the proposed LEED v4 construction standards. The groups say a chemical avoidance provision could eliminate the use of hundreds of products in construction projects. Those products could include heat-reflecting roofing membranes, PVC piping and foam insulation.

In July, the groups formed the American High-Performance Buildings Coalition in a bid to support a new sustainable buildings standard that would challenge the LEED system.

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