The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) should continue requiring its new buildings and major renovations to achieve LEED Silver or equivalent ratings, according to a new report from the National Research Council. The report was compiled in response to a 2012 request from Congress for a report on the use of energy-efficiency and sustainability standards for military construction. In response to the request, the DOD tasked the National Research Council with reviewing existing literature regarding cost-benefit analysis, return on investment, and long-term payback for building standards related to energy use and high-performance buildings.

The report states that while not all high-performance buildings have significant energy and water savings, the DOD's policy of using LEED is sound. The research did not provide sufficient evidence as to why not all buildings were having significant savings, according to the Academy, and so the DOD should measure actual performance for at least three years after initial occupancy, and should also gather data for  conventional, non-LEED-certified DOD buildings to establish performance measurement baselines. The DOD committed all new construction and major renovations to LEED Silver or equivalent ratings in 2010, but in 2011, Congress began limiting Pentagon spending on sustainable building efforts at the LEED Gold and Platinum levels.

The new report's thumbs up for LEED is good news for the U.S. Green Building Council. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 requires federal agencies to use a green-building certification for new construction and major renovations, and the use of LEED as the dominant green-building rating system for federal construction is also currently under review at the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). As previously reported, the GSA has identified three rating systems--LEED 2009, Green Globes, and the Living Building Challenge--for further review. LEED advocates support continued of the system as the dominant certification for federal projects, while others have argued that the GSA should move away from LEED and toward a system developed with consensus-based processes.

The USGBC continues to stand by its system. "LEED has played a significant role in reducing energy and water bills in public sector buildings across the country," says Roger Platt, senior vice president of global policy and law at USGBC. "Using LEED at Pentagon installations is a win-win proposition for the country and for the military personnel these buildings serve."

The full report from the National Academies can be downloaded here