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High Performance Buildings

Executive and legislative mandates raise the performance requirements for buildings in GSA's national real estate portfolio.

In January 2006, 19 federal agencies signed a Memorandum of Understanding for Federal Leadership in High Performance and Sustainable Buildings committing to "federal leadership in the design, construction, and operation of High-Performance Sustainable Buildings. It charged agencies with implementing building design and operation strategies that provide optimal performance and maximize life-cycle asset value. In December 2008, the Interagency Sustainability Working Group developed High Performance and Sustainable Buildings Guidance to assist agencies in meeting the high-performance and sustainable buildings goals of Executive Order 13423.

In January 2007, President Bush furthered the vision with Executive Order 13423 - "Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management." It set numerous federal energy and environmental management requirements, including requirements for the entire GSA portfolio to:

  • Reduce metered energy use by 3 percent per year
  • Reduce metered energy use by 30 percent by 2015
  • Reduce metered water use by 16 percent by 2015 

In December of 2007, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007) established energy management goals and requirements. New GSA buildings and major renovations must reduce fossil-fuel-generated energy consumption by 55 percent by 2010 and by 100 percent by 2030.

In October 2009, President Obama affirmed this mandate with Executive Order 13514 (pdf), establishing a government-wide focus on sustainability, energy efficiency, and the environment.

Putting Policy Into Practice

To meet these new requirements, GSA needs to ensure that its future buildings, including both new construction and major renovation projects, achieve a consistently high standard of performance. Applied Research supports federal agencies in adopting sustainability practices and high performance building strategies in all building projects – from workplace and building renovations to the design and construction of new buildings.

Current research projects focus on the following:

high performance buildings, sustainability, sustainable design, building performance, green buildings