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Understanding federal compliance and the "Guiding Principles"

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Working on a project for a federal agency? Odds are, you’re familiar with the Guiding Principles

United States federal agencies, from EPA to NASA, voluntarily abide by the Guiding Principles for Federal Leadership in High Performance and Sustainable Building, a set of standards for building, renovating and operating optimal, efficient buildings. This is one of the reasons why the federal government has been a leader in the green building sphere, with thousands of LEED buildings that conserve resources, save taxpayer dollars and set a leadership example for the country and the world.

The Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) has been working with these federal agencies to offer assessments of each agency’s work to meet the Guiding Principles. GBCI can help you evaluate your success, streamline reporting, and guide your efforts toward complying with the principles. GBCI's depth and breadth of knowledge of green building certification makes the process easy while giving your program robust independent validation. 

Here’s how it works


Step 1: Tell us about your project

Once we know more about your project we can pair you up with a dedicated GBCI team member (your “coach”) and get you on your way. Check out the Getting Started Guide to learn more and fill out the interest form to begin. If you’re also pursuing LEED certification for your project, we’ll help streamline the process to avoid duplicative work on your end.


Step 2: Demonstrate compliance

The Guiding Principles compliance verification forms will guide you though the process, showing you all of the options for compliance and documentation.


Step 3: Submit data to GBCI

Send all documentation to your GBCI contact. When done, let your GBCI coach know you are ready to begin the review process. 


Step 4: Your Assessment Report

Once the assessment is complete, the project will receive a report indicating status of compliance with the Guiding Principles and an official GBCI certificate. 

Getting Started Guide

Ready to dive in? Access the Getting Started Guide.

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    Melissa Baker made 10 contributions in the last 6 months

Melissa Baker

Vice President, Technical Solutions U.S. Green Building Council
USGBC Articles can be accessed in the USGBC app for iOS or Android on your iPhone, iPad or Android device.
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7 commentsLeave a comment

Facility Planner / Sustainability Consultant, Jacobs
Hi Melissa / Nora, I tried using the link above in the article, and the one in Nora's comment, to download the guide, but cannot get it to connect in Chrome or IE. It goes to the page where I fill in my info, then hit 'download,' but then cannot connect after that. Help?
Digital Marketing Manager, U.S. Green Building Council
Hi Emily, Once you fill out the form and click the Download button the PDF will open, please note that it may take a few minutes to load. Thanks!
Facility Planner / Sustainability Consultant, Jacobs
Hi Nora, That's what I've been trying, but the page it goes to just says "This webpage is not available." There's no delay or anything, like something is loading, it just goes straight to that message. If I click on the 'details' button, it has this text: "The server at can't be found, because the DNS lookup failed. DNS is the network service that translates a website's name to its Internet address. This error is most often caused by having no connection to the Internet or a misconfigured network. It can also be caused by an unresponsive DNS server or a firewall preventing Google Chrome from accessing the network." I have tried the link on Chrome and IE, with the same error. Is there a way you can email it to me?
Director of LEED Support, U.S. Green Building Council
Sorry for your difficulties Emily; I'll email you offline...
Associate Project Manager, JLL
the link to that form isn't working for me!
Digital Marketing Manager, U.S. Green Building Council
Hi Kathryn, please visit to download the guide.
Sustainable Design Leader, LEED Fellow, HOK
Melissa, this is an exciting new program that will make many of our project teams lives simpler (saving time and money). Thanks for all the hard work you guys put in on this.

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