Army Abandons LEED Certification


We have entered a new era of green building policy. The Army is abandoning LEED certification.

On February 28, 2012, I reported, via a BuildingGreen article, that the Army had reiterated its commitment to LEED certification despite DoD re-authorization legislation that banned LEED Gold and Platinum certification.

Less than one month later, the Army has announced it is abandoning LEED certification. The Army is launching its own building code modeled off of ASHRAE 189.1 in lieu of pursuing LEED certification.

On March 7, 2012, Dr. Dorothy Robyn, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Installations and Environment) made the following statements to the House Appropriations Committee (PDF) Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies:

In addition to retrofitting existing buildings, we are taking advantage of new construction to incorporate more energy-efficient designs, material and equipment into our inventory. In the past, all new construction projects were required to meet the LEED Silver or an equivalent standard and/or to comply with the five principles of High Performance Sustainable Buildings. This year my office will issue a new construction code for high-performance, sustainable buildings, which will govern all new construction, major renovations and leased space acquisition. This new code, based heavily on ASHRAE 189.1, will accelerate DoD’s move toward efficient, sustainable facilities that cost less to own and operate, leave a smaller environmental footprint and improve employee productivity.

The repercussions of this announcement will be widespread.

For federal contractors, this is a game changer. The LEED AP credential will be less valuable. Past performance highlighting LEED certification will be less valuable, if not totally irrelevant. Construction firms will have to learn to build to ASHRAE 189.1 instead.

For federal agencies, this signals the beginning of the end for certifying federal buildings. It’s obvious that the Army is taking the DoD legislative LEED ban seriously. I can all but guarantee that the Navy and Air Force follow the Army’s lead in some fashion.

Federal agencies have long been one of the most important supporters of LEED certification. The Navy was the first agency to adopt the certification. After the Army, Navy and Air Force stop pursuing LEED certification, how do you think other federal agencies will respond?

For the US Green Building Council, this could be a devastating blow. Can the USGBC and LEED survive without the support of the federal government? Because that is the new reality of green building policy.

Article by Chris Cheatham, appearing courtesy Green Building Law Update.

Green Building Law Update is published to inform the construction and design industries about green building risks and legal developments. Launched in 2008, the website has served as a forum to discuss green building litigation, regulations, policy and trends.

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

1 Comment

  1. Not quite – comments from the eco.geek website on the same topic – (which are editorially referring to that article, not this one):


    Sustainability & Energy Program Manager, US Army Corps of Engineers

    written by Lyndsey Pruitt, March 28, 2012

    This article is false and highly lacking in the reporters ability to fact-check. The Army is NOT moving away from LEED. We are still mandated to follow LEED 2009. ASHRAE compliance has no impact on whether we are still using LEED.

    Secondly, your statement on NDAA is a bad interpretation and not supported by any command. While we have been prohibited on spending project funds to specifically achieve a gold or platinum rating, we are encouraged to drive toward sustainability through features and design and this may consequently result in a Gold or Platinum building. We have just released the first Army LEED Platinum building at Fort Bragg.

    Army is NOT “abandoning LEED”

    written by Rob Watson, March 29, 2012

    The gist of Dr. Robyn’s testimony was not a declaration of abandonment of LEED, on the contrary, the adoption of ASHRAE 189 was designed to facilitate the certification process by providing a common code-languge platform for the vast diversity of occupancies and jurisdictions in which the Army and the rest of the Department of Defense must work.

    Rob Watson,

    Founding Chairman, LEED Steering Committee