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Defense Department ‘Should Continue’ LEED Certification

The US Department of Defense should continue to require that its new buildings or major renovations to facilities be designed to achieve a LEED-Silver or equivalent rating, according to a report from the National Research Council.

Based on a review of empirical studies related to energy-efficiency and green building standards, Energy-Efficiency Standards and Green Building Certification Systems Used by the Department of Defense for Military Construction and Major Renovations says that green building certification systems such as LEED offer frameworks for successfully reducing energy and water use in buildings. However, the Defense Department should also focus more on a building’s performance after it is built, the report says.

The department should establish practices to evaluate its high-performance or green buildings after construction to ensure that efficiency objectives are met, performance continues to improve, and the measures required to reduce levels of energy and water use are cost-effective, the authors argue. Specifically, for all new construction and major renovations, the defense department should measure actual performance for at least three years after initial occupancy and use the resulting information to modify its policies as needed, they say.

In addition, the DoD should gather data for conventional buildings to establish baselines for performance measurement. The report also recommends that the DoD retain the flexibility to modify building standards and the application of green building certification systems in ways that are appropriate to the department’s operating environment and mission.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 requires federal agencies to use a green building certification system for new construction and major renovations of buildings.  One of the most commonly used systems in the US is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, developed by the US Green Building Council.

Last year 20 trade groups lobbied to stop the federal government’s facilities agency, the General Services Administration, from adopting the proposed LEED v4 construction standards. The groups said a chemical avoidance provision in the standards could eliminate the use of hundreds of products, such as heat-reflecting roofing membranes, PVC piping and foam insulation.

The coalition has urged the GSA to switch its LEED requirement for all federal buildings to another standard such as the Green Globes Standard. The group also is lobbying for a new green building standard that supports performance-based building codes, standards and rating systems developed in conformance with the American National Standards Institute.

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