New Federal Buildings Must Hit LEED Gold

LEED Gold is a lofty standard, but it’s also now the bare minimum for all new federal building construction in the United States. The General Services Administration (GSA) put out word on the new standard — a shift up from LEED Silver — saying it was part of an effort to “help deliver on President Obama’s commitment to increase sustainability and energy efficiency across government.”

The GSA said it oversees some 361 million square feet of space in 9,600 owned and leased facilities. Of course, existing buildings aren’t really the target of the new standard, although the GSA did note that for designs in progress, LEED Gold should be incorporated “where possible, after considering budget and schedule constraints on the current design and construction contracts.”

Green federal building

image via GRLA

In April this year, the GSA said it had pumped $4 billion into 391 green building and efficiency projects for federal buildings,funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certifying is based on a 100-point system in which buildings are credited for meeting a range of environmentally friendly standards. For instance, being located within a half-mile of a rail station or quarter-mile of a bus stop is worth two points, while reducing energy use below a baseline amount by 30 percent earns 10 points. LEED Certified is the first standard, rising to Silver, Gold and then Platinum.

The GSA said that for leased properties, the requirement remains at the LEED Silver certification for new construction projects of 10,000 square feet or more.

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.