A colleague recently asked about the energy management provisions of the recently-passed National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”), particularly the purported retreat from LEED.
Far from abandoning the standard, the military is actually required to justify it. Not only does OGBL have no problem with that, but perhaps the government should take the concept to its logical conclusion and start demanding favorable cost/benefit for all manner of programs.
Here’s a snapshot of the relevant text from the NDAA:
SEC. 2830. REPORT ON ENERGY-EFFICIENCY STANDARDS AND
PROHIBITION ON USE OF FUNDS FOR LEADERSHIP IN
ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN GOLD OR PLATINUM
(a) REPORT REQUIRED.—
(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than June 30, 2012, the Secretary
of Defense shall submit to the congressional defense
committees a report on the energy-efficiency and sustainability
standards utilized by the Department of Defense for military
construction and repair.
(2) CONTENTS OF REPORT.—The report shall include a cost/benefit
analysis, return on investment, and long-term payback
for the following design standards:
(A) American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and
Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) building standard
(B) ASHRAE building standard 90.1-2010.
(C) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
(LEED) silver, gold, and platinum certification, as well
as the LEED volume certification.
(D) Other American National Standards Institute
(3) ADDITIONAL CONTENTS OF REPORT.—The report shall
also include a copy of Department of Defense policy prescribing
a comprehensive strategy for the pursuit of design and building
standards across the Department that include specific energy efficient
standards and sustainable design attributes for military
construction based on the cost-benefit analysis, return
on investment, and demonstrated payback required by subparagraphs
(A), (B), (C), and (D) of paragraph (2).
(b) PROHIBITION ON USE OF FUNDS FOR LEED GOLD OR PLATINUM
(1) PROHIBITION.—No funds authorized to be appropriated
by this Act or otherwise made available for the Department
H. R. 1540—399
of Defense for fiscal year 2012 may be obligated or expended
for achieving any LEED gold or platinum certification.
(2) WAIVER AND NOTIFICATION.—The Secretary of Defense
may waive the limitation in paragraph (1) if the Secretary
submits a notification to the congressional defense committees
at least 30 days before the obligation of funds toward achieving
the LEED gold or platinum certification.
(3) CONTENTS OF NOTIFICATION.—A notification shall
include the following:
(A) A cost-benefit analysis of the decision to obligate
funds toward achieving the LEED gold or platinum certification.
(B) Demonstrated payback for the energy improvements
or sustainable design features.
(4) EXCEPTION.—LEED gold and platinum certifications
shall be permitted, and not require a waiver and notification
under this subsection, if achieving such certification imposes
no additional cost to the Department of Defense.
A couple particularly interesting aspects of the NDAA:
First, the June 30, 2012 deadline for the Secretary of Defense to submit to the congressional defense committees a report on the energy-efficiency and sustainability standards utilized by the Department of Defense for military construction and repair. This sounds like a cost/benefit analysis of standards such as LEED. OGBL sees no reason why the USGBC should be afraid of scrutiny. Put the rating system to the test and see if the buildings perform as advertised. Of course, we trust/expect that the evaluation of buildings will take into account factors such as occupant usage and systems upkeep, because variables such as those can dramatically impact results.
Second, the prohibition is only against LEED Gold or Platinum, and the prohibition does not apply if there is no additional cost. The Secretary of Defense may also waive the prohibition if notice and justification for the pursuit of Gold or Platinum is provided. Again, this sounds like a demand for a return on the green building investment, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that.
The more intriguing question is whether or not this demand for cost/benefit justification could be applied equally to other facets of the government. For example, here’s to the government evaluating the cost/benefit of subsidizing fossil fuels (subsidized at 6X the rate of renewables), or measuring the ROI on the $16.9 billion in taxpayers’ dollars spent in the past 16 years to subsidize corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, corn starch, and soy oils, or taking an objective look at ethanol subsidies, which seemingly expired but in truth simply changed form.
OGBL will eagerly await the metrics for LEED, and for the day that our government demands as thorough a cost/benefit analysis of other government-supported programs as it demands of LEED.