Skip to main content

Winstead Addresses U.S. Green Building Council

Remarks By
David Winstead
Commissioner, Public Buildings Service
U.S. General Services Administration
Greenbuild 2006 Conference
U.S. Green Building Council
Denver, Colorado
November 17, 2006


Thank you, Kevin Hydes, Board Chairman, U.S. Green Building Council for that introduction.

I’d also like to acknowledge the president, CEO, and founding chairman of “USGBC,” Rick Fedrizzi.

I bring greetings from GSA Administrator Lurita Doan and appreciation from both of us for the wonderful work you are doing to improve the natural and built environments and in carrying the “green” message to wider audiences.

I’m pleased to have the opportunity to speak to this audience of green building practitioners and supporters today about a topic of great importance to the federal government—sustainable design.

I am David Winstead, Commissioner of the Public Buildings Service (PBS) for the U.S. General Services Administration in Washington, DC. 

GSA is the landlord for the civilian federal government.  We manage approximately 8,600 buildings in 2,100 communities nationwide.  One component of the GSA mission is to provide world-class workplaces for federal customer agencies at best value for American taxpayers.

GSA provides workspace by leasing, renovating, or constructing facilities on behalf of federal tenants.  Our inventory includes courthouses, border stations, and office buildings for government workers.  GSA is also the steward of about 430 historic properties. 

While GSA  has been incorporating environment-friendly features in its construction projects since the 1970s, sustainable strategies have come into much greater prominence in recent years. 

GSA began incorporating more extensive green measures in government-owned and government-leased facilities in the 1990s. 

GSA's next big step in support of green design was requiring “leed” certification for all GSA new construction and major renovation projects.

Today, I’m very pleased to announce another new GSA requirement:  All future GSA "build-to-suit” projects must be “leed” certified at the silver level.  Language regarding the new "leed" requirement will now be included in all of our lease solicitations.   I’m proud that GSA is taking this additional step in support of sustainable design.

I believe I’m the only federal government speaker at this event, and I know I’m the first senior GSA executive to address a “greenbuild” audience.  Thank you for inviting me.

I’m proud to note that GSA was the first federal agency to join the U.S. Green Building Council. 

And I think most of you would be pleased to learn that, in September 2006, GSA Administrator Doan reported to congress that the “USBGB leed sustainable building rating system” is the most appropriate and credible system available for evaluation of GSA projects.  Leed continues to be the measure for sustainability in all GSA construction projects.

I also bring greetings from Washington, DC.  yesterday, the Washington Post reported on its front page that the District of Columbia is the “first major city in the country” to propose legislation requiring private developers to incorporate green design standards in new buildings. 

I don’t have any official information, but press reports indicate that the bill will go to the D.C. council for a vote next month and that all council members and the current mayor support the measure. USBGB is to be congratulated and thanked for helping to generate such an important piece of legislation.

Passage of the bill could also lead to greater collaboration on sustainability between the federal and District of Columbia governments.  GSAs national capital region works closely with the district for all federal construction projects in Washington, DC.  This bill is good news for everyone.

My primary message today is to reiterate that the federal government, including GSA, believes sustainability is fundamental in building design, construction, and operation, and that GSA incorporates sustainable principles throughout all its building programs. 

GSA is committed to creating high-quality, sustainable workplaces that reduce negative impacts on the natural environment, while providing healthy work environments for the government workforce.

Given the reach of GSA’s portfolio, we have the opportunity and a responsibility to lead change in the public sector and to serve as a positive role model for change in the private sector. 

GSA is also measuring and quantifying information on increased energy and cost efficiencies of sustainable design.  As more GSA projects come on line and current projects age, we will have an expanding database to demonstrate the economic benefits of building green—always a powerful incentive in both the public and private sectors!

From GSA’s perspective, Denver is the perfect location for this meeting at this time.  Several GSA projects are outstanding showcases for sustainable design and leed standards.

In fact, the federal presence in Denver demonstrates several tenets of GSA philosophy.  In addition to sustainable design components, the downtown federal district  and EPA Headquarters in “Lodo” represent GSA’s commitment to revitalizing urban centers. 

GSA’s “Good Neighbor/Urban Development Program” aims to keep federal agencies in downtown business districts where they contribute to the social and economic life of the city.  The federal presence frequently leads to private sector investment in these urban centers.

Now let me tell you more about the “green” Denver buildings that GSA points to with so much pride.

One GSA model of sustainability in Denver is the new Alfred A. Arraj U.S. Courthouse.   It incorporates the principles of GSA’s Design Excellence Program, as well as “good neighbor,” and was completed in 2002.

The Arraj facility is GSA’s first green courthouse.  Its many energy efficient features are too numerous to mention here—but these are some highlights:
• high-efficiency triple-glazed windows;
• underfloor air distribution;
• landscape elements for the plaza area, such as local stone set in sand beds, not concrete,  to absorb water and reduce run-off;
• extensive use of environmentally friendly building materials—limestone floors for the interior, local stone for outside paving, cork for courtroom flooring, and maple paneling from sustainably managed forests.

75 percent of the building receives natural light.  We’ve been told the judges very much appreciate the abundance of daylight, particularly in their courtrooms.  The judges also like the fact that their building is a showcase for sustainability in new construction.

A second model is the Byron G. Rogers U.S. Courthouse, an important landmark in Denver’s federal government enclave.  when renovation of this 40-year old modernist courthouse began, it was the government’s pilot for the then-newly-developed “leed for existing buildings.”  GSA’s goal for this project was to achieve a leed silver rating.

The courthouse’s high energy efficiency—an energy star rating of “88”—is one of its most prominent sustainability features.  It also incorporates a comprehensive number of GSA green policies for building operations.   For example, recycling initiatives in the courthouse and adjacent buildings have increased the overall recycling rate from 2 percent to 25 percent.

I know Administrator Doan would also want me to mention that the design team for this renovation project was led by a woman—Mary Morissette, AIA, from the firm of Bennett Wagner & Grody Architects.

And the best news—the Byron Rogers Courthouse received “leed gold for existing buildings”—the first for GSA! 

Another recent Denver example of green design is the Regional Headquarters for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  this state-of-the-art facility—in the punch list stage right now—is a partnership between GSA and the development firm “Opus Northwest LLC.”  The facility is leased by GSA to EPA.

I mentioned earlier the new EPA Regional Headquarters. 

One of the building’s most memorable features—unique to downtown Denver—is the building’s green roof.  In addition to giving the building the ability to avoid heat islands, the green roof is also serving as an experimental best practice pilot for storm water management. 

The new building has been designed to use 30 percent less energy than a modern, fairly energy-efficient building.
• The building is anticipated to have a water savings of 208,000 gallons a year.
• 85 percent of interior floor space has access to natural light.
• Wood paneling is made of bamboo, a rapidly renewable resource.

Another important sustainable factor—the building’s proximity to public transportation.

this project even had a very aggressive approach to construction waste management—the contractor donated excess drywall to a farmer for use as a soil amendment!

It’s very exciting for me to be able to report that the EPA Headquarters in Denver is expected to receive “leed gold for new construction.”  GSA’s requirement was for silver.  The developer took us to gold!

Finally—although it’s not a Denver project—GSA Administrator Lurita Doan and I are dedicating a new Thom Mayne-designed Courthouse in Eugene, Oregon in two weeks.  and, guess what?—GSA can now add the Wayne l. Morse U.S. Courthouse in Eugene to its list of leed gold buildings!  Everyone involved in this project is proud and extremely happy about this achievement.

I hope many of you had the opportunity to attend the GSA education session yesterday and also to visit the GSA table in the exhibit hall.

I’d like to applaud the work of the U.S. Green Building Council and everyone in this room for outstanding leadership in addressing sustainable design issues.  Your work has produced creative, concrete—no pun intended—and wide-ranging steps to assist the construction industry in building green! 

You have also provided comprehensive benchmarks that the industry—and others who are watching the industry!—can use to measure success in incorporating sustainable design concepts and standards in every applicable construction project.

And you have been diligent in communicating the value of sustainability to wider audiences.

The collaboration between the U.S. Green Building Council and the federal government, through GSA, is exceptionally productive, of great benefit to the country, and an outstanding example of a successful public-private partnership.

I’m going to close with a challenge for everyone engaged in sustainable design. 

GSA has just published a wonderful new booklet.  its title is “expanding our approach to sustainable design—an invitation.”

As its name suggests, we’re asking you—the experts and readers of this booklet—to join us in seeking broader opportunities for incorporating true sustainability in construction and to develop and implement even more creative solutions for building green.

I believe the booklet was available at the GSA table in the exhibit hall. if you missed getting a copy there, Don Horn can probably find you one or arrange to get you a copy.  Don is Director of GSA’s sustainable design program in PBS and—I'm also proud to say—a recently announced federal advisor on the “USGBCs” board.

Once again, thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak with you today on this very important subject.


#####