GSA Makes LEED-Gold the Federal Green Building Standard

GSA Makes LEED-Gold the Federal Green Building Standard

The U.S. General Services Administration has upped the ante again on green building and now requires all new federal buildings and major renovation projects to achieve at least LEED-Gold certification.

Previously, new federal buildings and major overhauls were required to achieve silver-level certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council.

“Sustainable, better-performing federal buildings can significantly contribute to reducing the government’s environmental footprint,” said GSA Commissioner of Public Buildings Robert A. Peck in a statement. “This new requirement is just one of the many ways we’re greening the federal real estate inventory to help deliver on President Obama’s commitment to increase sustainability and energy efficiency across government.”

The GSA’s portfolio includes more than 361 million square feet of space in 9,600 federally owned and leased facilities occupied by more than 1.2 million federal employees.

A 1965 federal office building in Los Angeles.For building projects that were funded before fiscal year 2010, the GSA now requires that LEED-Gold standards be incorporated into designs where possible, taking budget and schedule constraints into considerations. For GSA-leased properties, LEED-Silver certification for new construction lease projects of 10,000 square feet or more remains the requirement. And for leases in existing buildings, tenant agencies may request to pursue certification under LEED for Commercial Interiors (LEED-CI) standards.

Earlier this year in response to the president’s executive order on sustainability, Administrator Martha Johnson challenged the GSA to set the example for federal agencies by striving to achieve a zero environmental footprint.

Metropolis magazine has since made Johnson’s challenge the platform for its annual contest for designers who have been in practice for 10 years or less. In Next Generation 2011: GET ZERO, contestants will vie for a $10,000 prize for the best ideas to transform a 45-year-old, eight-story GSA building in Los Angeles (pictured above) so that it its environmental benefits cancel out its impacts. More details on the contest are available at The deadline for entries is January 31, 2011.

Top image -- rendering of U.S. Courthouse under construction Austin, Texas, courtesy of the General Services Administration. Inset image -- photo of the federal office building at 300 North Los Angeles Street in Los Angeles, Calif., by Andrew Bywater via Metropolis magazine.