The GSA and their abudent portfolio of buildings is no doubt a market leader in green building and given their size has the ability to direct the green building marketplace. Until now GSA has utilized the LEED rating system for the large majority of their green building projects.
As part of the Energy Independence and Security Act they are required to evaluate the effectiveness of the various green building certifications in the market place for adoption every 5 years. Currently in the review process, GSA has released a preliminary report evaluating the rating systems and then was topic of a Congressional hearing to discuss the process along with pros and cons of various systems. (You can watch the full hearing online) That being said the review process is being watched very closely by the industry as to how the GSA’s decision will effect on the green building marketplace.
The Green Building Certification System Review’s goal is to help GSA determine which rating system will ‘be most likely to encourage a comprehensive and environmentally sound approach to certification of green buildings.‘ The primary focus of the report compares how three rating systems, LEED, Green Globes and Living Building Challenge, technical components address the federal high performance design and operation standards of federal facilities. This matching of technical components to federal requirements is one of nine determining criteria in the GSA’s decision.
In the comparison of New Construction standards Green Globes topped LEED v2009 in aligning with more of the 27 related federal performance requirements. While this is not the only determining factor we noticed that many of the changes likely to be seen in LEED v2012 will make LEED align with more federal requirements than it currently does. Also given that once LEED v2012 rolls out fully you will have to utilize it over LEED v2009, one would ask should the GSA wait to make a decision based on the outcome of LEED v2012? Wouldn’t making a decision that lasts for 5 years on a system which isn’t applicable for most of that time not be wise? How can LEED v2012 be factored into their decision?
Within the 4th public comment drafts of LEED v2012 there are several additions which seem to be on track to be included which match the federal requirements. Some of these include credits related to integrated design, process water, bench-marking and acoustics.
It is also important to note that the decision is not only for new construction but also existing buildings. In the Existing Building comparison, perhaps more important given the vast existing building stock, LEED for Existing Buildings aligned closer with federal requirements than Green Globes. To be continued…