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.