White House Eyes LEED Certification

Can the White House become the Green House?. (Photo: Cliff [CC BY 2.0]/Flickr)

Yes, you’ve read that right; the administration is going to pursue LEED certification for the White House. One of the nation’s most iconic buildings is going to be a certified green building. National Geographic’s Green Guide first reported the story in July, but today it is back in the news.

“The Federal Energy Management Program will work with the White House Council on Environmental Quality to implement changes in procurement, energy and water systems, and waste.” (Source: Environmental Leader)

The White House Council on Environmental Quality was shook up last week with the sudden resignation of Van Jones amidst controversy. Today’s resurgence of the White House’s desire to go green will help the Council move away from the controversy and focus on its core purpose.

Although the White House won’t be the first historic building to undergo a green renovation, it will likely be an extremely difficult project. The building will be retrofitted with energy efficiency upgrades, water efficiency upgrades, products with low or no VOCs, eco-friendly cleaning products and much more.

However, this process will occur while the Obama family is in residence at the White House. This creates a new dynamic to retrofitting a historic building – the security of the nation’s Commander in Chief.

In an interesting move, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the organization that manages the LEED rating system, has offered to provide guidance to the White House as it pursues LEED certification. “LEED certification of the White House is absolutely possible and viable,” said Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and president of USGBC. (Source: The Green Guide)

The White House is not listed on the USGBC’s LEED Registered projects database but it is likely that the facility will pursue LEED for Commercial Interiors or perhaps LEED for Existing Buildings certification. If the project is not already registered (the USGBC does not require all LEED registered projects to be listed in the database), then it will be using a LEED v3 checklist.

When LEED v3 was unveiled earlier this year, green building proponents across the country applauded the inclusion of real time performance data reporting as part of the certification process. It will be interesting to see how the White House project unfolds and how well it meets its initial energy efficiency expectations.