Executive Order Tasks Federal Agencies with Reducing Environmental Impact

By Consulting Specifying Engineer Staff February 8, 2007

President George W. Bush released an executive order last month calling on the head of each federal agency to reduce “energy intensity” (energy consumption per sq. ft. of building space) by 3% annually through the end of fiscal year 2015, or 30% by the end of fiscal year 2015.

The USGBC Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system has been adopted by 11 federal government agencies, dozens of state and local governments and private developers, and LEED also has been endorsed by the U.S. General Services Administration. Consequently, the organization will most likely play a major role in this initiative.

In addition to establishing goals for building performance, the executive order sets environmental targets in the areas of purchasing and acquisition, renewable energy, toxics reductions, recycling, renewable energy, electronics equipment, fleets and water conservation.

The executive order comes on the heels of USGBC eight-step action plan on climate change, announced in November, which includes a series of proposals and recommendations that will increase the role of green building and the building sector in reducing climate change.

The directive establishes goals for all new construction and major renovations of agency buildings in accordance with green building strategies such as resource conservation; use of recycled materials; building site selection; and indoor environmental quality. The strategies comply with the guiding principles set forth in the 2006 Federal Leadership in High Performance and Sustainable Buildings Memorandum of Understanding , signed by 16 agencies in January of 2006.

“The U.S. Green Building Council applauds the executive order, which demonstrates a commitment to reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions,” said Rick Fedrizzi, USGBC president. “Buildings are a major contributor to climate change: Annually, they consume 40% of the energy and 70% of the electricity in the United States, and are responsible for 40% of the nation’s CO2 emissions.”