Jason Hartke

After several days of nonstop cold rain here in the District, it was nice to see the sun shining again on the first day of May. But it was even nicer that day to hear about all the award-winning building projects honored by the General Services Administration (GSA) as part of its Design Awards ceremony.

GSA announced 20 federal buildings that were recognized for demonstrating the agency’s commitment to leadership and innovation in sustainability. A panel of judges from private-sector companies had the tough task of selecting the final winners. Each of these award winners should be particularly proud when you consider that GSA is the nation’s largest landlord, with more than 360 million square feet of owned and leased space — more than 2 percent of the U.S. commercial real estate. Many of the award-winning projects were also certified through USGBC’s LEED green building rating system.

As we know, GSA has been a longtime leader in energy and resource-efficient buildings. The administration has pioneered policies for ramping up green building best practices and has made implementation of these sustainability measures central to its operation. “We support the delivery of vital public services to the American people with buildings that are distinct and valued landmarks in their local communities,” said Norman Dong, commissioner of GSA’s Public Buildings Service, from GSA’s press release yesterday. “Our design efforts provide necessary tools to the nation’s federal workforce in high quality, cost effective spaces that help agencies achieve their missions. Today we honor the talents of federal employees and our private sector partners that brought these projects to fruition.”

To date, GSA has nearly 150 LEED-certified green buildings, representing more than 40 million square feet of real estate.

All of us in the green building community commend GSA for its dedication and commitment to green building, a sound strategy for reducing environmental impacts while also driving down costs and saving taxpayers money.

One thing we now know for certain is that an investment in green building pays back many times over. In fact, studies have shown that GSA green buildings meet their goals for energy and water savings while also saving money on operating costs. That’s a big deal. Further supporting the value of advancing the environmental and economic benefits of green building, the National Academy of Sciences released a landmark report last year that recommended that the Department of Defense utilize LEED to help ensure these benefits were being achieved.

Congratulations to all those who worked on these impressive projects. For a closer look at just one of the award winners, the Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building, a LEED Platinum federal office building in Portland, Ore., take a look at the video. Also, you can see a collection of the LEED-certified and -registered building award winners on our Green Building Information Gateway.

Keep up the good work!