Does the Congressional LEED Ban Make Sense?

One of the great parts about Green Building Law Update is interacting with astute readers. One recent comment has forced me to rethink the proposed Department of Defense Reauthorization Bill ban on LEED certification.

In the comments to last week’s post, reader R. David Chambers asked an important question:

Chris -
your quoted section says '... LEED Gold or Platinum certification ...', which appears to NOT preclude LEED certification at a Certified or Silver Level - I have not read the bill, but it appears from your snippet that if the funds required to achieve Certified or Silver 'backed into' Gold or Platinum there would be '... no additional cost to DOD.'
am i missing something?

No, David, you are not missing anything. And your comment raises an important issue about the policy underlying this bill.

There are two primary reasons why I can see a politician opposing government spending on LEED certification:

1. LEED certification is primarily a marketing tool for green buildings. The federal government does not need to advertise its green buildings. I have always considered this a legitimate policy argument.

2. The government should not be investing in green buildings, period. To me, this argument has less merit. Many studies now find that a green building can be built for the same costs as a non-green building. And green buildings should result in cost-savings in energy and water useage.

If the drafters of the DoD reauthorization bill were concerned with the first policy issue -- the costs of certification -- then presumably they would have banned spending on all LEED certifications.

However, the DoD reauthorization bill only prohibits funding for LEED Gold or Platinum. Buildings that obtain LEED Gold or Platinum certification generally cost more than buildings that obtain Silver or Certified certification. It appears that the DoD reauthorization bill ban on LEED Gold or Platinum certification is based on the policy that the federal government should not be investing in advanced green buildings.

How do you interpret the DOD reauthorization bill ban on LEED Gold or Platinum certification?  Do you think the ban has merit? 

Photo credit: David Reeves

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Comments (4) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
James - August 5, 2011 1:06 PM

I has merit unless a builder can achieve Gold or Platinum status and still be the low bidder.

What good does it do to have a building if the government goes broke and can't afford to occupy it?

Jim Gibbon - August 5, 2011 3:22 PM

What is not understood is that high performance buildings reduce operating and maintenance cost of buildings for the long run. Isn't this a goal when building on the public dime? Construction cost is only five per cent of the operating cost of a building. Spending an extra two per cent of that cost to make a building thirty per cent more efficient is a good trade off to save operating cost over thirty or forty years of the life of the building.

We should not be building government buildings to be energy hogs. The only way to assure that the public gets a high performing building is to have it certified as high performing. Using a recognized rating system assure that out come.

Eventually all building, whether public or private, will be required by buildings codes to be high performance, commissioned and energy efficient. Government buildings should show us the way and be an example of how it can be done.

I do not want our government to building energy hogs.


Christopher G. Hill - August 12, 2011 12:36 PM

My thought is and continues to be that LEED certification is not necessary for a high performance building. Many of the performance based aspects of LEED can be achieved without the additional administrative costs. If we can achieve the same goals at a lower taxpayer cost, then lets do it.

Cade - September 15, 2011 7:48 PM


What you said brings up something that I hadn't really considered before. Up until now, I was totally against any governmental entity mandating LEED certification. Why pay the extra money to get "certified" when you can just build to the same standards and avoid the costs, right?

But what I hadn't really considered before was accountability. Having a LEED plaque on a government building sure does a fine job letting the public know that the building was at least built with certain efficiency standards in mind, among all the other benefits.

Now I'm not sure what I think, thanks for peaking my interest.


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