It is not looking pretty for federal green building policy.
Earlier in the year, I speculated that Congress might target green building certification as an unnecessary cost. Well, it happened. From the ASHRAE Government Affairs Update:
House Passes National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2012 – Would Require Cost-Benefit Analysis & Long-Term Payback for DoD Adopting ASHRAE Standard 189.1
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (H.R. 1540) by a vote of 322-96. . . .
The bill would also require a cost-benefit analysis and return on investment for energy efficiency attributes and sustainable design achieved through DoD funds used to receive a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold or Platinum certification.
But here's the real kicker in the legislation:
The bill would prohibit FY 2012 DoD funds from being used to achieve a LEED Gold or Platinum certification, however these certifications could be obtained if they impose no additional cost to DoD.
As I understand it, LEED certification will always impose an additional cost on the DoD simply because administration fees have to be paid to the US Green Building Council in order to get the certification. It appears that this legislation, if passed in this form, would bar the DoD from pursuing LEED certification.
According the ASHRAE update, the Senate will propose its own bill. It will be interesting to see how the LEED certification funding issue is dealt with in the Senate and in conference committee.
I have often wondered why federal buildings should pursue LEED certification. I always viewed certification as a marketing tool to demonstrate that a building was green. But a green building policy wonk recently made an interesting point to me: by pursuing LEED certification, the federal government receives third-party confirmation that it is getting the green building it contracted for.
Is this the beginning of the end for federal policy that supports LEED? Should federal buildings pursue LEED certification in the first place?