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Congress Hampers LEED Certification for Department of Defense

Lt. Col. Gregory Martin, commanding officer, Wounded Warrior Battalion-West, expresses how thankful the Marines of the WWBn are for having a new state-of-the-art living quarters during a Leadership in Energy and Environment Design Platinum certification ceremony, April 21. The 66,464 square-foot barracks, which took a total of 87,521 man-hours to complete, will provide a home to more than 200 ill and injured Marines.

The U.S. Department of Defense funding bill has drawn fire from the green building community for a provision that will make it difficult for the DOD to pursue LEED certification for its buildings.

The National Defense Authorization Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law on New Year's Eve, states "No funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act or otherwise made available for the Department of Defense for fiscal year 2012 may be obligated or expended for achieving any LEED gold or platinum certification."

A clause further in the law, however, does not make it impossible: "if achieving such certification imposes no additional cost to the Department of Defense."

The USGBC believes the loophole will make it possibly for the DOD to still pursue LEED.

""DOD can still LEED certify to Gold and Platinum levels if there is no additional cost or they document a positive return on investment, which they have done and will continue to do. For example, earlier this year, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced that new Navy and Marine Corps buildings would attain a LEED Gold certification level beginning FY 2013 and would do so at no additional cost," wrote Bryan Howard, the council's legislative director.

Howard also notes that the bill requires a cost-effective study on LEED certification and other building efficiency tools. He pointed to a study by the GSA that found their green buildings have 27 percent lower energy use compared to the national average, while reducing operational costs by 19 percent compared to the national average.

"LEED Gold buildings were singled out as being particularly high performers. We have no doubt that this new study will come to the same conclusion, and we are happy that this time the LEED Volume program can be specifically explored for DoD. We'd love to work even more closely with leadership agencies to certify more buildings and drive down costs," wrote Howard.

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