Defense Authorization Act Lifts Ban on LEED Gold and Platinum


President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2014 in Honolulu last Thursday and while most observers noted that the bill cracks down on sexual assaults in the military and eases restrictions on transferring detainees from Guantanamo Bay, the bill also is a huge win for the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED green building rating system.

By way of background, the Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy and other instruments of the Department of Defense own and operate 299,000 buildings and 211,000 additional structures, making it the largest owner of buildings in North America, but it is also the owner of more green buildings and more LEED certified buildings than anyone else.

In the National Defense Authorization Act for the fiscal 2012, section 2830(b)(1) provided, “No funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act or otherwise made available for the Department of Defense for fiscal year 2012 may be obligated or expended for achieving any LEED gold or platinum certification.”

And when the National Defense Authorization Act for the fiscal 2013 was enacted it continued and expanded the limitation of use of funds for LEED Gold or Platinum not just for fiscal 2012 funds and fiscal 2013 funds but all funds whether prior appropriated or not.

So, it is very good news for the U.S. Green Building Council that the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2014, in “compliance with rules of the House of Representatives and Senate regarding earmarks and congressionally directed spending items” provides, in the compilation of

Legislative Provisions Not Adopted .. Continuation of limitation on use of funds for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold or platinum certification.”

That is, there are no longer limitations of the Department of Defense pursuing LEED Gold and Platinum certifications. And this is a big deal because the Act includes $ 527 Billion in base defense spending for the current fiscal year.

As we reported in a blog post earlier this month, New Department of Defense Policy Accepts Green Globes it was a major shift in government policy that Department of Defense will now permit the use of both Green Globes and LEED for third party green building certification. But some have suggested that LEED has all but certainly won the bigger battle because allowing the Department of Defense to choose between the two rating systems took the wind out of the sails of the coterie that want to ban LEED from all military and civilian government projects.

If it is not too cynical to look toward a prosperous New Year, while this repeal supports the hugely vital mission of the armed forces and is good for the planet, the real winners are all those participating in the environmental industrial complex that will support and share in that more than half a Trillion Dollars that will be expended by the military industrial complex in fiscal 2014.

Article by Stuart Kaplow, appearing courtesy Green Building Law Update.

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