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New law bars LEED energy certifications for DoD building projects

Jan. 3, 2012 - 06:00AM   |  
By ANDY MEDICI   |   Comments
The Defense Department's Mark Center, above, which opened in September in Alexandria, Va., has LEED Gold certification.
The Defense Department's Mark Center, above, which opened in September in Alexandria, Va., has LEED Gold certification. (Marc Barnes / Army Corps of Engineers)

The Defense Department is barred from using any money to certify its buildings LEED Gold or Platinum, under a law President Obama signed Dec. 31.

Those ratings are the two highest from the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Program which the Defense Department and other agencies use to measure energy efficiency and compliance with environmental mandates.

The National Defense Authorization Act also requires DoD to submit a report to Congress analyzing the cost-effectiveness of LEED certifications and the standards set by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers.

The law allows the Defense secretary to proceed with LEED certification if a project is cost effective and DoD proves it can make back the project cost in energy savings.

The federal government has 641 LEED-certified buildings and 3,954 in the certification process, according to the Green Building Council. Government buildings make up 27 percent of all LEED projects.

Federal agencies are working to meet a 2009 executive order to make 15 percent of their buildings "green" by the end of fiscal 2015. To be considered green, a newly constructed building must use 30 percent less energy than a typical building of the same size. Renovated buildings must use 20 percent less energy. Also, they must meet specific standards for water efficiency, recycling, indoor air quality and low-emission paints and sealants, among other things.

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