Folks over at the USGBC certainly were smiling heading into 2014, thanks to a last-minute gift from President Barack Obama. As reported over at Green Building Law Update and on USGBC's blog, in late December, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act for the 2014 fiscal year. The good news? Among other things, it removed a two-year prohibition on spending for LEED Gold and Platinum certifications for U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) properties. This move wraps up a year that saw major victories for the use of LEED in federal projects, with a renewal of support from the U.S. General Services Administration (albeit with the addition of Green Globes as an alternative pathway to green building certification) and an early 2013 report from the National Research Council advocating for the DoD's continued use of LEED for its new buildings and major renovations.
Congress restricted DoD spending on LEED certifications in Dec. 2011 by passing a version of the Act that explicitly prohibited spending on Gold and Platinum certifications. However, building to LEED Silver or equivalent ratings continued to be required by the DoD.
The Gold and Platinum spending restriction was carried through to the 2013 fiscal year, although exceptions were allowed if the two highest certifications in the LEED program could be reached at no additional cost to the DoD. This new all-clear for all levels of LEED certification, however, could have big implications given the DoD's massive footprint and the hundreds of billions allocated for FY 2014 spending on defense-related spending. One question that remains is whether the DoD will choose to pay for higher levels of certification, now that it is allowed to do so.