Is LEED back on the menu for the Military's green buildings?

Fort Belvoir Hospital/Public Domain

Almost a third of the buildings certified under LEED are government owned or occupied, with the Department of Defense building more than any other department. That bothered Republicans in the pocket of the lumber and plastics industry, so two years ago Congress essentially prohibited the Military from spending any money on LEED certification above the LEED Silver level. (see Congress Bans Department of Defense From Getting LEED Certification) They even slipped a further moratorium on LEED in the latest appropriation, with a "Continuation of limitation on use of funds for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold or platinum certification."

Now a new report from the National Research Council, requested by the Department of Defense, has come out in favor of continuing the use of LEED. From the press release:

The U.S. Department of Defense should continue to require that its new buildings or major renovations to facilities be designed to achieve a LEED-Silver or equivalent rating, says a new report from the National Research Council. Based on a review of empirical studies related to energy-efficiency and green building standards, the report concludes that green building certification systems such as LEED offer frameworks for successfully reducing energy and water use in buildings.

Does this mean LEED is back in uniform? Paula Melton of BuildingGreen thinks it might be. She interprets:

The LEED Gold ban may come to an end now that the Department of Defense (DoD) has provided Congress with the required cost-benefit analysis on green building rating systems and codes.

However the recommendation seems to say otherwise:

The limited evidence available indicates that the majority of LEED-Silver-certified buildings studied used significantly less energy and water than conventional buildings, although some LEED- Silver-certified buildings did not outperform conventional buildings. Based on the evidence and committee members’ own experience with green building certification systems, the committee believes the most prudent course for DOD is to continue its current policy.

...which I understand to mean no LEED gold or higher, and still leaves the door open for "equivalent" standards.

Tags: Green Building | LEED

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