In a tectonic shift in government policy, the Department of Defense will now permit the use of both the Green Building Initiatives’ Green Globes and U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED for third party green building certification. 

This is important news not only because the Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy and other instrumentalities of the DoD own and operate 299,000 buildings and 211,000 additional structures, making it the largest owner of buildings in North America, but it is also the owner or more green building and more LEED certified building than anyone else. 

The new “Department of Defense Sustainable Building Policy” supersedes the October 25, 2010 policy that authorized only LEED. And DoD is USGBC’s largest customer.

That new policy announced in the just released November 10, 2013 memorandum from John Conger, Acting Deputy Under Secretary of Defense provides, in relevant part,

DoD Components are responsible for establishing an auditable process to ensure applicable new buildings and major renovations meet requirements as defined in the UFC. The auditable process shall include green-building certification of those facilities through any of the systems approved for federal use pursuant to section 436(h) of EISA, and appropriate documentation in the Component’s real property information management system  ..

(Which is “military speak” for both Green Globes and LEED are approved as third party certification systems for military building use.)

By way of explanation of that key text from the memorandum, the DoD’s Unified Facilities Criteria (UFC) system provides planning, design, construction, sustainment, restoration, and modernization criteria. On March 1, 2013, DoD issued the new UFC 1-200-02 High Performance And Sustainable Building Requirement. The new UFC provides minimum standards to achieve high performance and sustainable facilities that comply with EISA 2007, EO 13423, and the Guiding Principles. That UFC incorporates most of ASHRAE 189.1-2009.

On October 25, 2013, the U.S. General Services Administration administrator reported that in accordance with EISA section 436(h), it had recommended both Green Globes and LEED as the third party certification systems that the federal civilian government will use.

The DoD memo goes on to say, that to validate,

greater energy and water efficiency if the greater efficiency can be shown to: I. reduce total ownership cost of the facility; or 2. preserve or increase mission effectiveness in the face of projected resource scarcity (e.g., competition for limited water resources, or more stringent wastewater discharge limits),

.. the DoD will pursue Green Globes or LEED certification.

There are many details not yet available and “each DoD Component is responsible to develop guidance in support of this policy.”

Watch this blog, for additional information and more analysis of the federal government’s dramatic shift in green building policy.