Green Building Law Blog

Congress requires the Department of Defense to do a cost-benefit analysis of LEED and ASHRAE 90.1-2010

Many people, including me, have noted that the National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”), signed into law by President Obama on December 31, 2011, prohibits the Department of Defense (“DoD”) from using any appropriated funds to achieve the two highest levels of green building certification offered by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (“LEED”) Program – platinum and gold.  The NDAA, however, does provide that the Secretary of Defense can certify a building under LEED gold or platinum standards if certification imposes no additional cost to the DoD, or if the DoD conducts a cost-benefit analysis of the project and there is a demonstrated payback for implementing energy improvements or sustainable design features.

More interesting, upon further reflection, is that the bill requires that by June 30, 2012 the Defense Secretary must provide Congress with a report on the energy efficiency standards the DoD uses for military construction and repair.  The report must include:

  1. A cost-benefit analysis as well an examination of the return on investment and long-term payback of LEED, ASHRAE 189.1 and ASHRAE 90.1-2010; and,
  2.  A new DoD policy on energy efficient construction based on the cost-benefit and ROI analysis.

 The methodology for assessing the "cost-benefit" and return on investment of the standards is not specified.  Given that life-cycle costing makes the ROI of energy efficiency and other green features much more attractive, the standard that is used will be significant.   

The proposed DoD "policy" could also be used by Congress as a model to impose on the other Federal agencies, which mostly use LEED-Silver as their building standard.

Look out for a debate in the middle of the year over whether LEED and ASHRAE 90.1-2010 should be scrapped from DoD (and potentially other agency) requirements because they fail the "cost-benefit" analysis. 

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Comments (2) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Craig McCord - January 4, 2012 4:50 PM

It does seem that the United States (and in particular the Federal Government Administration) has a policy that for every step forward in the war over the environment we immediately shoot our other foot to render progress impossible.

Mark Hinton - February 13, 2012 11:32 AM

As a tax payer I would like proof that the hundreds of thousands of dollars extra that we pay for LEED certification gives us more that a bronze plaque. Recertification of buildings should be required every two years, otherwise cost-benefit analysis is hypothetical. A LEED building is a highly sophisticated machine that requires 'tuning' and unless the performance is monitored it will not perform as designed ... a waste of money.

Shari Shapiro, Esq., LEED AP
Cozen O'Connor
Suite 300, Liberty View, 457 Haddonfield Road, P.O. Box 5459
Cherry Hill, NJ 08002-2220,