American High-Performance Buildings Coalition Lauds Green Building Policy Advancement in House Appropriations Bill

For Immediate Release
Contact: Scott Openshaw (202) 249-6504

Washington (July, 17 2013) – Today, the American High-Performance Buildings Coalition (AHPBC), an organization of leading associations representing a wide range of interests in the building and construction industry, praised the advancement of sustainable building language included in the FY2014 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill as it advanced through the full House Appropriations Committee today.

The House FY2014 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill includes language that prohibits funding from being obligated or expended to implement or use green building rating standards for new construction or prospectus level renovations unless such standards are voluntary consensus standards.

The AHPBC issued the following statement regarding the bill:
“Passage of this new, updated federal green building policy language is the next step forward in a series of congressional actions regarding federal green buildings, to require that green building standards be ‘voluntary consensus standards.’ Broad concerns have been raised over the federal government’s almost singular use of LEED, which only serves to limit competition and the benefits of various green building rating systems. No one system – whether LEED or any other – should have a monopoly particularly when it comes to federal buildings where taxpayers are ultimately on the hook. That the term ‘voluntary consensus standard’ is now for the first time referenced and required for use by the federal government means that the tide is shifting against the current use of just one green building rating system, that competition is not only good but mandatory in this space for the government, and that the taxpayer ultimately benefits.

“When the government uses standards from the private sector, use of voluntary consensus standards provides an important measure of assurance that the standard is technically sounds, has considered the views of all materially interested stakeholder groups, and reflects consensus agreement of the stakeholders on the final standard, including that the standard will meet identified needs. This could not be more important.

“Congressional support for change and competition is the right decision as we strive to achieve greater building efficiency and green building rating choice, and we encourage continued support as this bill is considered by the full House.”

Below is the text of the report language as passed by the House Appropriations Committee:

Green Building*.—The Committee shares the GSA’s goal of reducing building expenses through the efficient use of energy and water. The Committee is concerned, however, that GSA’s current green building policies and practices are tailored to reflect the standards of a specific third-party certification system rather than the public interest in greater energy and water efficiency. All agencies should be wary of becoming captured; no third-party certification program has a monopoly on how to attain efficiency, much less Sustainability. For example, efficiency and sustainability can be achieved not just through the design of buildings or major renovations and the selection of materials, but also through proper building maintenance and usage, building codes, energy codes, energy efficiency rating systems, or a combination thereof. The Committee encourage; GSA to take a comprehensive and science-based approach to the certification of green buildings, recognizing there are the multiple means to the same end.

Greening projects for Federal buildings should not be undertaken unless GSA can clearly justify that the additional expenses will be more than offset by a reduction in subsequent operating expenses as a result of the project. The Committee directs GSA to report by March 14, 2014, on how it measures and monitors building operations costs; how it divides these costs among tenant agencies; and how it can give tenant agencies a greater ability to affect their consumption, and therefore, their cost of building services. Under the Federal Buildings Fund, language is included to prohibit funds to implement or use green building standards that are not voluntary consensus standards as defined by Office of Management and Budget Circular A-l 19.