How Sustainable Are USA Federal Agencies

New Courthouse in Jackson Missouri

The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the Office of Management and Budget have released their annual agency sustainability scorecards, providing a comprehensive picture of the green building credentials of America’s federal government facilities.

The scorecards provide federal agencies with ratings of red, yellow or green based on the extent to which they satisfy the requirements of Executive Order 13415, which seeks to reduce energy consumption and waste generation in government operations.

This latest batch of scorecards provides an ambivalent picture of the green building chops of US federal agencies,with a highly variable performance amongst the top government bodies.

The General Services Administration (GSA), responsible for the overall management of the federal government’s facilities, performed well, saving more than $65 million a year as a result of heightened energy efficiency. Ten per cent of the GSA’s massive portfolio of buildings are now green, up from eight per cent last year, and well on track to achieve its target of 15 per cent by 2015.

The Department of State has achieved major advances in green building, leaping from approximately six per cent of its portfolio to 19 per cent. The department has over 10 million square feet of LEED registered or certified space, including many US embassies situated in countries around the world.

white house

White House. Source: Liberty County School System

The Environmental Protection Agency also obtained a green rating, which is unsurprising given the nature and scope of its duties. The agency has 16 LEED registered or certified projects out of 1 million square feet of space.

NASA’s performance in terms of green buildings was slightly disappointing given its renown as a hub of the most advanced scientific and technological research. NASA scored a mediocre yellow for green building, with a mere one per cent increase in its portfolio. NASA nonetheless has the third largest number of LEED buildings amongst federal agencies, behind the GSA and the Department of Defense (DoD).

Despite having more LEED certified facilities than any other federal agency, the DoD scored a red in terms of green building. Its poor performance is mitigated by the fact that its portfolio of structures and facilities is the largest of any federal agency.

Its new Unified Facilities Code incorporates large amounts of material from the ASHRAE/USGBC/IES Standard 189.1, which is considered a green building code.

Despite performing well on most other sustainability metrics, scoring five green scores out of a possible seven, the Department of Energy received a dismal red rating for green building, with an increase of a mere one per cent in its portfolio. The agency nonetheless has the fourth largest number of LEED buildings of all the agencies and the expertise to raise its energy efficiency in the future.

By Marc Howe
Top Image: New Courthouse in Jackson Missouri. Source: ArchPaper
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