The U.S. Department of Defense has historically been at the forefront of many of the innovative clean technologies of our generation-and for good reason. Distributed renewable energy installations have reduced the amount of liquid fuels being transported to remote bases, thereby minimizing the vulnerability of energy supplies to attack as well as the costs associated with their transport. Efficiency policies, moreover, have helped curb the DoD’s energy appetite and freed its budgets up for other defense needs.
The Army’s recent announcement that it would adopt ASHRAE Standard 189.1 continues this legacy. The code, which we’ve discussed in the past, behaves like a normal code with minimum requirements for construction methods and other standards, except the requirements go deeper into traditional green building areas such as energy efficiency, building siting, water, and green construction approaches.
While the General Services Administration (GSA), which oversees procurement for federal agencies, recently updated their long-standing green building requirements from LEED Silver to LEED Gold, the U.S. Army has a different approach. Starting in 2008, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the main construction arm of the Army, had begun to require LEED Silver for Army building projects both in the U.S. and abroad. Army projects could pick and choose the LEED points they wanted to meet based on the specifics of the project.
The new Green Code policy goes one step further by beefing up the bare minimum green building requirements across the board. The policy will apply to both construction of new buildings as well as renovations in the U.S. territories, permanent overseas Army installations, Army Reserve Centers, and other Army buildings.
The impact of this requirement should not be underestimated, as the Army maintains nearly 1 billion sf of space worldwide. By comparison, the Federal government owns about 2.4 billion sf total of space in the U.S. CB Richard Ellis, the largest real estate services firm in the world, currently manages about 2.4 billion sf of space, as well. So, as the Army conducts new construction and renovation projects around the world, the Green Code will come into effect in a growing number of buildings.
This move also brings up another important question: What will be the future of green building certification programs if one of the world’s biggest landlords is taking the code-based approach rather than the certification-based approach? For now, the current LEED Silver policy will stay in effect (though ASHRAE 189.1 may produce greener buildings than the LEED policy alone would), so there will be no major slowdown in the number of LEED certified buildings. In the long term, it will be interesting to see which approach-code-based and certification-based-drives the most activity for green building products and services.
Article by Eric Bloom.