The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) is not ready to decide which green-building certification system to use and will accept public comments for the next 60 days to further evaluate options. The GSA is currently evaluating LEED 2009, Green Globes, and the Living Building Challenge for use in federal buildings as part of a mandated review. Every five years, the administration must evaluate green-building certification systems for the government’s use, and in May 2012, the GSA identified the three rating systems above for further exploration. Presently, GSA uses LEED 2009 as its system of choice for new construction and major modernization projects, with LEED Gold as its targeted certification level.

After the comment period closes, GSA will make a recommendation for one system, multiple systems, or no systems to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The previous comment period in summer 2012 sparked pro-LEED and anti-LEED commentary. In June 2012, 27 organizations including the Adhesive and Sealant Council, the American Chemistry Council, and the Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing launched the American High-Performance Buildings Coalition (AHPBC), and argued that the GSA should move away from LEED as its dominant rating system and should use a system developed with consensus-based processes. In response, more than 1,200 real estate companies, manufacturers, and cities signed a letter to the GSA in support of using LEED.

In response, USGBC vice president of national policy and advocacy Jason Hartke encouraged additional commentary to “let the government know that they are on the right track,” citing that the request for information highlights the importance of green-building rating systems and that “today’s notice shows the country’s largest landlord is listening. Now is another opportunity for the green building community to speak up.” LEED and its related programs such as LEED Volume, the Green Building Information Gateway, and the Building Performance Partnership, “are proven ways to save taxpayer dollars while meeting sustainability goals,” Hartke wrote.

The AHPBC released the following statement: "We are encouraged that GSA has recognized the complexity of this issue by calling for public input on approaches it may take in fulfilling its requirement to DOE. The AHPBC looks forward to reviewing the supplemental information provided today by GSA and we plan to submit comments on the most effective approach to achieving energy efficiency goals through a process that values performance-based standards.  AHPBC is strongly supportive of the U.S. government’s efforts to improve the efficiency and environmental performance of its buildings, reduce its overall energy use, and save taxpayer funds.  We urge GSA to recommend to DOE that the federal government be able to use more than one green building rating system, as long as those systems meet federal government energy efficiency objectives and are based on a consensus-process that is open, inclusive, balanced and transparent.”

In a statement on the notice of the new public comment period, which appeared in the Federal Register on Feb. 5, GSA acting administrator Dan Tangherlini said, “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. 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. The federal government has its own building standards in place, and we are seeking input on how and which certification systems can best help us measure performance and operate federal buildings more efficiently.”

Comments may be submitted four ways. All correspondence must cite Notice-MG-2012-04:

-       Via the Federal eRulemaking portal at www.regulations.gov. Search for “Notice-MG-2012-04” and select “Submit a comment.”

-       Via fax at 202-501-4067

-       Via email to Bryan Steverson, GSA Sustainability Program Advisor, at bryan.steverson@gsa.gov

-       Via mail to General Services Administration, Regulatory Secretariat (MVCB), ATTN: Hada Flowers, 1275 First Street NE, 7th Floor, Washington, DC 20417.