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Federal Green Building Requirements

In This Section

EPA first developed a green buildings vision and policy statement in 1995, and since then the Agency has endeavored to continue leading by example. The following federal statutes require EPA to build, renovate, operate, maintain, and use green buildings:

Executive Order (EO) 13514

EO 13514, "Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance," requires that starting in fiscal year (FY) 2020 federal buildings be designed to achieve "zero net energy"1 by FY 2030. It reiterates EO 13423's requirement that new construction and major renovations meet the Guiding Principles, and that 15 percent of an agency’s existing buildings and leases meet the Guiding Principles by FY 2015. EO 13514 requires agencies to reduce energy, water, and material use through cost-effective strategies andoperations and maintenance (O&M) procedures, and to make annual progress toward 100 percent conformance with the Guiding Principles for their building inventories.

Guiding Principles for Federal Leadership in High Performance and Sustainable Buildings (Guiding Principles)

In January 2006, EPA signed the Federal Leadership in High Performance and Sustainable Buildings Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), along with 21 other agencies, which voluntarily committed the Agency to follow the Guiding Principles set out in the MOU. The Guiding Principles, last revised in December 2008, focus on the following five topic areas for both new construction and major renovations:

  1. Employ integrated design principles (new construction)/Employ integrated assessment, operation, and management principles (existing buildings)
  2. Optimize energy performance
  3. Protect and conserve water
  4. Enhance indoor environmental quality
  5. Reduce environmental impact of materials

While the 2006 MOU focused almost entirely on new building design and construction and major renovations, the December 2008 Guiding Principles revision established a new focus and promulgated new principles for transforming existing buildings into high performance sustainable buildings.

Download the Guiding Principles from the Department of Energy's Federal Energy Management Program (DOE's FEMP)Exit EPA Disclaimer.

EO 13423

EO 13423, "Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management," was the first executive order to require federal agencies to implement the Guiding Principles in all new construction and major renovation projects and in at least 15 percent of their existing building inventory (by number of buildings) by the end of FY 2015. In addition, it requires agencies to reduce energy intensity by 3 percent per year, or 30 percent by FY 2015 (compared to an FY 2003 baseline).

Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA)

EISA reinforces the energy reduction goals for federal agencies put forth in EO 13423 and introduces a set of more aggressive sustainability requirements. EISA Section 432 requires agencies to complete comprehensive energy and water evaluations at 25 percent of the agency's "covered facilities"—major agency facilities that comprise at least 75 percent of the agency's facility energy use—annually. EISA encourages agencies to implement and verify energy and water efficiency measures identified by these evaluations, and requires thatevery four years agencies reteurn to conduct recommissioning and look for new energy-saving opportunities.

EISA also requires new or renovated agency building designs to reduce fossil fuel-generated energy consumption compared to an FY 2003 baseline. The required reduction increases such that designs for new buildings or major renovations begun in FY 2030 must reduce fossil fuel-generated energy consumption by 100 percent, equivalent to using zero net energy,1 compared to an FY 2003 baseline. Starting in 2010, federal agencies are also required to lease space that has earned the ENERGY STAR® label in the most recent year.

Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005)

EPAct 2005 requires federal buildings to be designed to achieve energy consumption levels that are at least 30 percent below the American Society of Heating, Air Conditioning, and Engineering (ASHRAE) 90.1-2004 standard, and to apply sustainable design principles to the siting, design, and construction of all new and replacement buildings.

1 Zero net energy buildings produce, on average, as much energy as they use. EPA interprets zero net energy to encompass the following hierarchy: first, focus on efficiency technologies that reduce energy use as much as possible; second, examine the potential for and the cost-effectiveness of onsite energy generation to offset natural gas (e.g., ground source heat pumps) or provide electricity; and third, offset remaining electricity use with renewable energy purchases, if possible, through long-term green power or renewable energy certificate (REC) purchases.


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