Government watchdog doesn’t bark at using LEED | U.S. Green Building Council
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With the release of the Clean Power Plan and consideration of comprehensive energy legislation, the last few weeks have been pretty active with regard to energy efficiency and buildings. One item that hasn’t been getting as much attention as it deserves is the recent report issued by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), which found that third-party rating systems like LEED assist federal agencies in implementing key efficiency goals.

An independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress and investigates how the federal government spends tax dollars, GAO reviewed the use of third-party certification programs by five federal agencies for this study, including the Department of Defense (DOD) and the General Services Administration (GSA). GAO concluded that third-party certification (of which LEED is the most common) helps to ensure compliance with various federal building obligations by holding contractors and agency project teams accountable for incorporating these requirements. These findings support the analysis by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), released earlier this year, that newly constructed or renovated federal buildings, many of them LEED-certified, were a contributing factor in federal energy use reaching a 40-year low.

While this is good news on its own, it is also notable that LEED certification is delivering this level of accountability to federal agencies in a cost-effective manner. The GSA informed GAO that the price of certifying a new construction or major renovation accounts for only 0.012 percent of a project's total budget.

With more than 1,500 federal projects certified, the LEED rating system has a great track record in improving the efficiency and sustainability of buildings across federal agencies. USGBC looks forward to continuing its work with the federal government to enhance its leadership with LEED.

Read USGBC's policy brief on the 2015 GAO report.