U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), on Friday, criticized a newly-released Department of Defense (DOD) report on energy-efficient building standards. Wicker added an amendment to the FY2012 National Defense Authorization Act that required the DOD study to examine the cost and effectiveness of current building standards, including the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).
"The findings made by DOD and the National Research Council show that a strict LEED policy for green buildings does not achieve consistent and significant energy, water, or cost savings for military construction across different geographic areas," said Wicker. "I am disappointed that despite negative findings and mixed results, the NRC recommends DOD continue its LEED policy for green buildings. DOD should consider all the rating systems and standards available and remain flexible in its policies to better ensure energy and water savings."
Of the LEED buildings examined, DOD found that only half produced any return on investment, while others resulted in negative net savings. The National Research Council found cases where LEED-Silver and LEED-Gold certified buildings used more energy and water than conventional buildings.
The Defense Department is the largest federal builder, operating a portfolio of nearly one million facilities. For its green building policy, DOD has exclusively recognized or preferred LEED, a rating system developed with little transparency and meaningful input from affected stakeholders. This has resulted in LEED's unreasonable bias against American timber. Obtaining the highest LEED certifications often requires green buildings to exclude domestic wood, prompting the use of overseas products such as bamboo in favor of more cost-efficient local timber. The newest version of LEED proposed by the U.S. Green Building Council threatens to eliminate the use of other approved materials and proven products used to achieve real energy savings.
Senator Wicker has led efforts in the Senate to ensure that the federal government's adoption of energy-efficient building policies is fair and transparent.
In addition to the study requirement, Wicker fought to include language in the FY2012 Defense Authorization conference report that imposed a one-year ban on LEED and required DOD to submit a policy to pursue energy efficiency in military construction. DOD asked the National Research Council to provide independent and objective advice for its energy-efficiency policy.
Wicker negotiated language in the FY2013 Defense Authorization conference report that extended the ban on LEED until DOD submitted its report to Congress.