U.S. GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL: Government Update

Government owned or occupied LEED buildings make up 28% of all LEED projects
Government LEED projects:     1,756 certified  |  8,816 registered  |  38% Federal  |  24% State  |  38% Local

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From The Field
Milwaukee City Hall: Advancing History in Wisconsin
By Laurie Mitchell, LEED Associate, USGBC
From information provided by Transwestern Sustainability Services consultant Susan Loomans


When the Milwaukee City Hall opened in 1895, it was the second-tallest building in the world at 393 feet. If it had pursued LEED for New Construction at the time, it would have earned MR (Materials & Resources) credit 5: Regional Materials, because its foundation of 2,584 white pine pilings came from the nearby Milwaukee River marshes. Also, its 1,900 windows would have earned the City Hall IEQ (Indoor Environmental Quality) credit 8.1: Daylight and Views, Daylight.

Since 2005, the City of Milwaukee has made enormous strides to improve the environmental footprint of the City Hall Complex, while simultaneously preserving the architectural integrity of the historic buildings. The city pursued LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance certification for the complex, ultimately receiving a Silver certification with a score of 45.

Paul R. Fredrich, facilities manager for Milwaukee Department of Public Works, describes how the process of implementing green operations and maintenance practices on the City Hall project has inspired changes throughout his organization. "The quest to obtain LEED for Existing Buildings: O&M status for the City Hall Complex was one of enlightenment. The process itself brought about an awareness that sustainability just makes sense. Since then we have concentrated more thoughtfully on recycling, not only on materials used in the complex, but materials demolished on the jobsites during construction work on our buildings. We have learned that specifying high-efficiency motors and LED or other low-energy-consumption light fixtures just makes sense. We have applied the principles of the LEED experience to every aspect of our operational and capital improvement responsibilities. 'Why?' you ask. Because it just makes sense."

As part of the City of Milwaukee's move toward sustainable building operations, the city developed and implemented a low-impact green cleaning policy. This policy included switching to sustainable cleaning equipment, purchasing cleaning chemicals that meet Green Seal standards and janitorial paper supplies that contain recycled content, and following a set of standard operating procedures that effectively clean the building with minimal environmental impact.

Additional LEED credits earned include:

  • Performed commissioning on all major energy-using equipment (all no-cost and low-cost improvements/repairs)
  • 73% of parking underground to reduce heat island effect
  • Maximizing water efficiency by installing low-flow aerators on all sinks and several low-flow toilets (annual water savings of $650)
  • Purchased all new electronics with ENERGY STAR® rating
  • Conducted a waste stream audit which indicated more than 50% of occupants recycle, reused, or composted
  • Diverted 100% percent of its electronics from the waste stream

Read more about the green building program at the City of Milwaukee »
You can also e-mail [email protected] for more information.


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Performance Beyond the Plaque
By Jeremy Cohen, Government Sector Manager, USGBC


Green building is fundamentally about performance. As green becomes the norm for the design, construction, operations and maintenance of public buildings, LEED certification is understood as an important performance milestone as opposed to an end in and of itself. Government organizations are endeavoring to better communicate the performance behind the LEED plaque and to ensure progress toward the next milestone.

Different stakeholders look at various scales of performance – the flow rate of a faucet, the total energy consumption of a building, the building as a component of a community, etc. – and the ultimate success of a green building effort is judged on the sum of these factors. For government entities with organization-wide green building programs, where the stakeholders include every taxpayer and performance is summed across an entire building portfolio, quantifying and communicating green building impacts is a challenge. LEED certification provides an easily understood stamp of approval for a successful green building effort, a verification of performance and potential at one point in time. For many, this heightened focus on building performance generates new interest and necessity to track, maintain, evaluate and improve green building performance over time.

With an ethic of accountability and an imperative to serve the public good, government organizations at all levels are taking ongoing green building performance seriously. The U.S. Department of Energy worked with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to develop a methodology to compare the lifecycle cost and performance of a green building to a traditional building. The data collection protocol has been applied in several studies for the Department of Energy, the U.S. Navy, and the U.S. General Services Administration. The National Association of State Facilities Administrators (NASFA) in cooperation with the AIA Public Architects Committee assembled a best-practices guide to post-occupancy facility performance evaluation programs, featuring a menu of methods that states such as Massachusetts, Washington, California and Ohio are employing to inform maintenance planning and future design decisions. Cities such as Seattle, San Francisco, Washington, D.C, and Denver are tracking a range of metrics on public and private green buildings, while in western Michigan, Illinois and New York City, USGBC chapters have spearheaded public-private partnerships to conduct cost-benefit and performance evaluation studies.

This focus on ongoing building performance is evident across the green building movement. At Greenbuild 2009, there were only a handful of education sessions dedicated to measuring and evaluating green building performance. At Greenbuild 2010, there was an entire session track titled simply, "Measuring Performance". All of this work and momentum is helping to raise awareness and to develop best practices. Limited time, staff and money are common barriers to doing more about ongoing building performance, but shared experiences and tools illustrate that where there is a will there is a way.

USGBC is working to make ongoing performance monitoring more accessible and to make ongoing improvement a necessity. LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance and recertification provide paths to holistically score and verify facility performance at the next milestone. The Building Performance Partnership provides performance analysis and feedback to owners of LEED-certified buildings. And the Green Building Information Gateway, a mapping and data-sharing tool that has been introduced in beta for certain geographic areas, will make it easy to view and compare metrics on LEED-certified projects within a specific area. Achieving LEED certification is a huge achievement that represents leadership and the intention to leverage the built environment in the pursuit of sustainability – a goal that can only be fully realized through ongoing attention to building performance.

Selected Resources:

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Goverment Community News


U.S. General Services Administration moves from LEED Silver to LEED Gold standard for all new federal buildings and major renovations
Read more »

U.S. Army moves to 100% certification at LEED Silver level for all new construction and major renovations, including specific technologies and strategies such as cool roofs, solar hot water, advanced utility monitoring, and enhanced commissioning
Read more »


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USGBC News


USGBC 2011 Government Summit
May 10 & 11, 2011
Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C.

Join attendees from federal, state and local governments, academia, school districts, non-profits and the private sector for a two-day discussion on the state of government green building and the role the government plays in market transformation for a more sustainable built environment.
Visit www.usgbc.org/govsummit »

The Next Version of LEED
The first public comment period for the next update to the LEED rating system recently closed.
Read more about the drafts and the development process of LEED »

Building Performance Partnership
BPP engages owners and managers of LEED-certified buildings in an effort to optimize the performance of buildings through data collection, analysis, and action.
Learn more and find out how your building can participate »

Green Building Information Gateway
GBIG is a novel, map-centric information technology that provides an unprecedented view of the green building landscape, revealing patterns and processes in green building practice.
Learn more »

LEED Automation
LEED Automation is a new program open to multiple technology companies and organizations to integrate with LEED Online and improve data tracking, information and content integration for green building projects.
Read more »

Multiple Building and Campus Project Guidance
New guidance is available to help project teams more easily and efficiently certify multiple LEED projects located on one site or campus.
Learn more »

LEED for Healthcare
The USGBC membership recently voted to approve a new LEED for Healthcare rating system, designed to guide and distinguish high-performance healthcare projects, including inpatient and outpatient care facilities and long term care facilities.
Read more »

LEED Volume Certification
The LEED Volume Program is for organizations planning to certify a large number of new-construction projects or existing buildings.
Learn more »

Green Buildings for Cool CitiesJoint recommendations from the U.S. Green Building Council and the Sierra Club for policies to green buildings in your community. This guide provides a step-by-step approach to best practices that address the diverse context and needs of communities big and small, from coast to coast.
Learn more »

Government Summit


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