Government Takes LEED Certification Commitment Up a Notch

In an ongoing effort, dictated by President Obama to increase the federal government's environmental friendliness, the U.S. General Services Administration has raised the sustainability standard for new government-owned real estate by pushing up the minimum requirement for all new building construction from LEED Silver to LEED Gold.

October 28, 2010
By Barbra Murray, Contributing Editor

Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons user Stella Blu

In the world of precious metals, gold is always better than silver, and when it comes to sustainable development, LEED Gold Certification constitutes a bigger allegiance to green principles than LEED Silver Certification. In an ongoing effort, dictated by President Obama to increase the federal government’s environmental friendliness, the U.S. General Services Administration has raised the sustainability standard for new government-owned real estate by pushing up the minimum requirement for all new building construction from LEED Silver to LEED Gold.

The U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System has fast become a benchmark for sustainability in the real estate world across the globe. The federal government was one of the early adopters of LEED, and the GSA has long embraced a leadership role in the green building movement, a USGBC spokesperson told CPE, adding that the organization commends GSA’s steadfast dedication to green building.

GSA, the federal government’s workplace solutions provider, is wasting precious little time implementing its new green guidelines. The minimum LEED Gold standard will not just be applied to future project proposals, but to any projects funded before fiscal year 2010 that are currently in the design phase. Architects who are still at the drawing board will now have to integrate design features that will allow a government facility to meet the requirements for LEED Gold certification. The minimum requirement for newly constructed buildings in which the government leases 10,000 square feet or more, however, will continue to be LEED Silver.

Robert A. Peck, GSA’s Commissioner of Public Buildings, noted that sustainable, better-performing federal buildings can significantly contribute to reducing the government’s environmental footprint. In the U.S., the federal government is the single largest owner of real property, and its name on the tenant roster at leased properties is highly coveted in the commercial real estate industry. All told, the federal government occupies approximately 361 million square feet of space in owned and leased facilities.

Going LEED Silver or Gold, or Platinum, for that matter, has far-reaching benefits, even beyond the environment. Greater building efficiency can meet 85 percent of future U.S. demand for energy, the USGBC spokesperson said, and a national commitment to green building has the potential to generate 2.5 million American jobs.