GSA Makes Recommendation on Green Building Certification Systems

Marlon Arias applauds the possible changes in federal guidelines that would make for greener construction and renovation. The owner of Trinity Glass Company in Springfield, Va., says he welcomes the chance to help lessen the environmental imprint of government buildings in the future. Arias, whose company holds a number of federal contracts throughout the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area, says any possible changes toward a greener path that will conserve energy and cut costs won’t affect the way his company does business.

“Not unless they want to replace a lot of windows,” he says. “And, even then, that’ll be okay with us.”

Arias was still unsure as to when the changes could come following the recent decision by the General Services Administration (GSA) to formally recommend to the Department of Energy (DOE) that federal buildings use the Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes 2010 or the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) 2009 as the certification systems for construction and renovation.

Currently, LEED 2009 is the only green standard used for federal buildings.

GSA is required by law to issue a recommendation to DOE every five years on how the federal government can best use certification to measure its construction and renovation projects. In making its decision, GSA conceded that no green building certification system meets every federal green building requirement and that the systems are just one way for GSA to trim costs and meet sustainability and economic performance goals.

LEED 2009, which is the current federal green building policy, awards wood credit only for wood products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Only 25 percent of certified forests in North America are FSC-certified. By contrast, Green Globes 2010 recognizes forest certifications such as Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI) and American Tree Farm System (ATFS), in addition to FSC.

As part of the GSA recommendations, federal agencies would be allowed to choose between the two certification systems that best meet their building portfolios. For new construction and major renovation projects, the GSA recommends at least LEED Silver or 2 Green Globes.

Agencies seeking green building certification for existing buildings are recommended to choose LEED Certified or 1 Green Globe.

“We’re looking forward to it,” Arias says. “It’s not really going to bother us at all.”

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