Congress recently extended the existing ban against LEED Gold and Platinum certification as part of the just-passed 2013 authorization bill for the Department of Defense (DOD). Originally enacted in the 2012 authorization, the provision restricts the DOD from pursuing the two highest levels of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification program, an environmental performance rating system for buildings. While lower levels of LEED certification may still be used, this signifies a shift in the government’s approach to green building efforts.
The DOD was one of the earliest LEED adopters and military construction makes up a significant percentage of LEED certifications annually. However, questions over the cost-benefit of green building certification systems, as well as upcoming changes to the LEED program, have prompted calls for a re-examination of green initiatives. The House-passed version of the bill expanded the prohibition to include other green building programs, but the final measure included the more-limited Senate provision. A report accompanying the bill clarified that the DOD should avoid pursuing blanket green building certifications, instead studying certification cost-benefits on an individual project basis.
While all the implications of the DOD’s ban are not yet known, this development serves as an important reminder that federal agencies and local jurisdictions alike continue to explore various options to meet cost-effective, building performance goals. To that end, NMHC/NAA continue to advocate for voluntary green building efforts that allow for flexibility in choice of green building criteria. Where lawmakers seek to establish performance benchmarks for apartment properties, NMHC/NAA believe the National Green Building Standard (NGBS) is the most appropriate program for residential construction.
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