The recent unanimous decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Kingdomware Technologies, Inc. v. United States, is a win for small businesses and very good for those that work on Green Globes projects.
In an effort to encourage small businesses, Congress has mandated that federal agencies restrict competition for some federal contracts. The Small Business Act requires many federal agencies, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, to set aside contracts to be awarded to small businesses.
Kingdomware, a Maryland veteran owned small business, unsuccessfully vied for a federal contract from the VA to provide emergency notification services. Kingdomware sued, arguing that the VA violated federal law providing that it “shall award” contracts to veteran owned small businesses when there is a “reasonable expectation” that two or more such businesses will bid for the contract at “a fair and reasonable price that offers best value to the United States.” This provision is known as the Rule of Two.
The Supreme Court, in an opinion authored by Justice Thomas, held that the provision is mandatory, not discretionary. Its text requires the VA to apply the Rule of Two to all contracting determinations and to award contracts to veteran owned and other small businesses.
Among the significant beneficiaries of this Supreme Court decision will be the many small businesses involved with Green Globes green building assessment and certification system.
The Green Building Initiative has completed 537 assessments for the VA under both Green Globes and Guiding Principles compliance assessment programs, more than for any other federal department or agency.
The relationship began in 2009 when GBI partnered with the VA to assess buildings on 21 campuses including 21 hospitals. From the experience on the hospital assessments, GBI developed Green Globes for Existing Buildings Healthcare, which specializes in healthcare buildings with licensed inpatient beds.
In 2011, GBI worked with the VA to develop the first assessment program for existing buildings to assist federal agencies in measuring compliance to the Guiding Principles For Sustainable Federal Buildings.
Since the initial assessments in 2009, GBI completed an additional 460 assessments of 279 unique buildings resulting in 206 certifications under Green Globes programs and 254 certifications under Guiding Principles compliance programs.
And the assessments and certifications are not limited to businesses that do work on hospitals, they also include medical offices and outpatient clinics, pharmacies, research laboratories, chapel, childcare facilities, firehouses, food service spaces, laundries, libraries, gyms, auditoriums, and many more opportunities.
The large number of small businesses that predominate the environmental industrial complex, many of which have a role in projects using Green Globes on VA buildings will be winners from the Supreme Court decision. Not only does the VA today operate the nation’s largest health care system, but as the Department strives for further improvements in performance, there will be much work done to VA facilities.
Moreover, what is good for Green Globes is good for green building, including given that much of the VA efforts have involved greening existing buildings.
It is only slightly irreverent to conclude that the Supreme Court decision in Kingdomware will be the proximate cause of more and additional green building, .. that will ultimately save the planet.