Army To Continue Pursuing LEED Gold and Platinum

I had been hearing whispers that the Army planned to ignore the recently-enacted LEED ban, and now we have proof.

Back in December 2011, GBLU reported on legislation that banned the Department of Defense from pursuing LEED Gold or Platinum certification.  As reported by BuildingGreen, despite the new law, the Army is reiterating its commitment to LEED certification: 

In a call with reporters yesterday, [Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary], reiterated the Army's commitment to net-zero and LEED and gave an update about some of the progress that's already been made. "We're finding it does not cost more to design and construct to LEED" standards, Hammack said.

How can the Army continue to build to LEED Gold and Platinum? 

The BuildingGreen article does a great job explaining the loophole included in the legislation: 

The legislation in question does have a loophole for LEED Gold and Platinum projects as long as they don't cost more. As we reported at the time, "Exceptions may also be made without a special waiver if achieving Gold or Platinum 'imposes no additional cost'."

That loophole is big enough to blithely drive a tank through without bothering to show ID at the checkpoint. You apparently don't have to prove that it didn't cost more--or the Army is interpreting it that way, at any rate, while working closely with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta on "educating" Congress.

After giving a green building legal presentation at the American Society of Military Engineers in Fort Leonard Wood last month, I had a chance to talk to contractors about the LEED ban.  They indicated they have been told to simply submit bids that indicate LEED Gold or Platinum costs the same as LEED Silver.  

Is this the end of the LEED ban?  The politics behind the LEED ban have nothing to do with fiscal issues, and everything to do with wood certification, at least according to one Congressman who voted for the legislation.  Do you think Congress will be receptive to the Army's use of the LEED loophole?  

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