GSA needs more time to decide which green building system to use


The General Services Administration announced another 60-day round of public comment Tuesday on which green building certifications the federal government should use.

GSA is required every five years to evaluate green building certifications for government use and make recommendations to the Energy Department about which systems to use. The Energy Department will then choose any combination of standards that best fit the government’s needs.

The Energy Department has avoided picking one certification standard so far. In 2010, the agency proposed a rule that would allow agencies to use any third-party standard that met Energy Department criteria.

GSA has been under fire from lawmakers, industry groups and advocacy organizations with a stake in which certification system is used.

“GSA would like to hear more from the public, stakeholders, and experts before we develop a formal recommendation on the government’s use of green building certification systems,” said Dan Tangherlini, GSA Acting Administrator.

Today, the government’s primary measuring stick is the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system, which scores how green a building is based on everything from its construction materials to its proximity to mass transit. Buildings can be LEED certified or achieve even higher degrees of greenness at the LEED Silver, Gold or Platinum levels.

The General Services Administration, which manages most of the government’s non-defense building projects, requires that all buildings it builds be LEED Gold certified. Other federal agencies occasionally use another standard: the Green Building Initiative’s “Green Globes” system.

GSA is currently evaluating LEED, Green Globes and the International Living Future Institutes Living Building Challenge and can recommend one system, multiple systems or none, according to the agency.

“This review has been open to an extensive public process, and an additional comment period will assist us in making a final recommendation for the next five years,” Tangherlini said.


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  1. I believe the USGBC has by far the best and most comprehensive green building certification program. It has a balance between cost effectiveness and incouraging new ideas.
    Green Globes can be abused, is not suited for in interior renovations and is not suited for issues in large projects.
    The Living Building Challenge program is much too agressive and not even close to being cost effective.

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