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Federal Requirements for Sustainable Buildings by Topic

For sustainable buildings at Federal agencies, the laws and regulations required for compliance fall under the following topics.

Also see Federal Requirements for Sustainable Buildings by Law and Regulation and Guiding Principles for Federal Leadership in High-Performance and Sustainable Buildings.

Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reduction

GHG reduction requirements for sustainable buildings include:

  • Decreasing agency use of chemicals where such decrease will assist the agency in achieving GHG reduction targets
  • Reducing water and energy use intensity.

Also see information on GHG Mitigation Planning for Buildings.

Water Use Intensity

Water use intensity requirements for sustainable buildings include:

  • Ensuring at least 15% of existing agency buildings and leases (above 5,000 gross square feet) meet the Guiding Principles by fiscal year (FY) 2015 and that the agency makes annual progress toward 100% compliance across its building inventory

  • Implementing water conservation technologies that are life cycle cost-effective if water is being used to achieve energy efficiency

  • Installing water conservation measures that have a payback period of less than 10 years, as required by the Energy Policy Act (EPAct) of 2005 upon the EPAct of 1992.

Also see Water Efficiency Federal Requirements.

Energy Use Intensity

Energy use intensity requirements for sustainable buildings include:

  • Ensuring all new Federal buildings, entering the design phase in 2020 or later, are designed to achieve zero net energy by 2030

  • Ensuring rehabilitation of Federally owned historic buildings utilizes best practices and technologies in retrofitting to promote long-term viability of the building

  • Using energy-efficient lighting fixtures and bulbs in Federal buildings

  • Ensuring that major replacements of installed equipment, renovation or expansion of existing space employ the most energy-efficient designs, systems, equipment, and controls that are life-cycle cost-effective

  • Applying sustainable design principles to the siting, design, and construction of buildings subject to the standards

  • Meeting 30% of the hot water demand in new Federal buildings (and major renovations) with solar hot water equipment, provided it is life cycle cost-effective

  • Requiring that the General Services Administration, in transmitting to Congress a prospectus of a proposed facility, must include "…an estimate of the future energy performance of the building or space and a specific description of the use of energy efficient and renewable energy systems, including photovoltaic systems, in carrying out the project"

  • Directing the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to issue revised Federal building energy-efficiency performance standards. The revised standards specify that buildings must be designed to reduce fossil fuel-generated energy consumption by the following percentages as compared to a similar building in FY 2003: 55% in 2010, 65% in 2015, 80% in 2020, 90% in 2025, and 100% by 2030

  • Requiring, per Executive Order (E.O.) 13423, that 15% of the existing Federal capital asset building inventory of each agency incorporate the Guiding Principles for Sustainable Existing Buildings by the end of the calendar year 2015. This initially applies to buildings over 5,000 gross square feet

  • Achieving energy consumption levels that are at least 30% below the levels established in the version of ASHRAE Standard or the International Energy Conservation Code as appropriate

  • Applying sustainable building design principles to the siting, design, and construction of all new and replacement buildings

  • Complying with Title 10 Part 435—Energy Conservation Voluntary Performance Standards for New Buildings, which is mandatory for Federal Buildings for establishing performance standards to be used in the design of new Federal commercial and multifamily high-rise buildings

  • Complying with the National Energy Conservation Policy Act (NECPA), which serves as the underlying authority for Federal energy management goals, requirements, and annual reporting Signed into law in 1978, it is regularly updated and amended by subsequent laws and regulations

  • Installing energy conservation measure that have a payback period of less than 10 years, as required by EPAct 2005 upon the EPAct of 1992

  • Requiring "…the procurement of ENERGY STAR and Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) designated products in new service contracts and other existing service contracts as they are recompeted, and should, to the extent possible, incorporate such requirements and preferences into existing contracts as they are modified or extended through options" (Federal Register. Volume 74, No. 48. 10 CFR 436. Final Rule. DOE. March 2009).

Metering

Metering requirements for sustainable buildings include:

  • Using meters by October 1, 2012, to ensure efficient energy use and reduce the cost of electricity used in Federal facilities. Advanced meters or metering devices must provide data at least daily and measure the consumption of electricity at least hourly and must be used to the maximum extent practical (EPAct 2005)

  • Submitting an implementation plan identifying personnel responsible for achieving metering requirements, and any determination by the agency that advanced meters or metering systems are not practical to DOE (EPAct 2005)

  • Entering energy use data for each metered building into a benchmarking system, such as the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager (Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007).

Asset Management

Asset management requirements for sustainable buildings include:

  • Identifying opportunities—when adding assets to agency building inventories—to consolidate and eliminate existing assets, optimize the performance of portfolio property, and reduce associated environmental impacts.

  • Complying with some exemptions are provided for leasing buildings that have earned the ENERGY STAR label

  • Complying with E.O. 13327, Federal Real Property Asset Management mandated that executive branch departments and agencies improve their real property asset management. Agencies were requested to "recognize the importance of real property resources through increased management attention, establish clear goals and objectives, improve policies and levels of accountability and take other appropriate action". Agencies were mandated to promote efficient and economical use of real property, increase agency accountability and management attention to real property reform and establish clear goals and objectives in relation to real property.

BioPreferred

Federal agencies are required to advance sustainable acquisition for ensuring that 95% of new contract actions are energy-efficient (ENERGY STAR or FEMP designated), water-efficient, biobased, environmentally preferable (e.g., Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) certified), non-ozone depleting, contain recycled content, or are non-toxic or less-toxic alternatives, where such products and services meet agency performance requirements.

Energy-Efficient Product Procurement

Energy-efficient product procurement requirements for sustainable buildings include:

  • Using energy-efficient lighting fixtures and bulbs in Federal buildings

  • Ensuring that major replacements of installed equipment, renovation or expansion of existing space employ the most energy-efficient designs, systems, equipment, and controls that are life cycle cost-effective

  • Complying with some exemptions are for leasing buildings that have earned an ENERGY STAR label

  • Complying with Title 10 Part 436—Federal Energy Management and Planning Programs, which establishes procedures for determining the life-cycle cost-effectiveness of energy conservation measures and for setting priorities for energy conservation measures in retrofits of existing Federal buildings.

  • Installing energy conservation measures that have a payback period of less than 10 years, as required by EPAct 2005 upon the EPAct of 1992

  • Complying with NECPA, which serves as the underlying authority for Federal energy management goals, requirements, and reporting. Signed into law in 1978, it is regularly updated and amended by subsequent laws and regulations

  • Requiring "…the procurement of ENERGY STAR and FEMP-designated products in new service contracts and other existing service contracts as they are recompeted, and should, to the extent possible, incorporate such requirements and preferences into existing contracts as they are modified or extended through options" (Federal Register. Volume 74, No. 48. 10 CFR 436. Final Rule. DOE. March 2009)

  • Advancing sustainable acquisition to ensure that 95% of new contract actions are energy-efficient (ENERGY STAR or FEMP-designated), water-efficient, biobased, environmentally preferable (e.g., Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) certified), non-ozone depleting, contain recycled content, or are non-toxic or less-toxic alternatives, where such products and services meet agency performance requirements.

Regional and Local Planning

For sustainable buildings, there's a requirement to advance regional and local integrated planning by ensuring that planning for new Federal facilities and leases consider sites that are pedestrian friendly, near existing employment centers, and accessible to public transport; and emphasize existing central cities and, in rural communities, existing or planned town centers.

Pollution Prevention

Pollution prevention requirements for sustainable buildings include:

  • Minimizing the generation of waste and pollutants through source reduction

  • Diverting at least 50% of non-hazardous solid waste by the end of FY 2013

  • Reducing printing paper use and acquiring uncoated printing and writing paper containing at least 30% post-consumer fiber

  • Increasing the diversion of compostable and organic material from the waste stream

  • Ensuring at least 15% of existing agency buildings and leases (above 5,000 gross square feet) meet the Guiding Principles by FY 2015 and that the agency makes annual progress toward 100% compliance across its building inventory.