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Sustainable Buildings

Constructing and operating buildings requires enormous amounts of energy, water, and materials and creates large amounts of waste. Where and how they are built affects the ecosystems around us in countless ways. And the buildings themselves create new indoor environments that present new environmental problems and challenges. As the environmental impact of buildings becomes more apparent, a growing field called sustainable design is leading the way to reduce that impact at the source. Sustainable design is the practice of creating healthier and more resource efficient models of construction, renovation, operation, maintenance, and demolition. The Federal government has been a leader in the field, and its efforts include:

  • Executive Order 13123, "Greening the Government Through Efficient Energy Management" requires agencies to apply sustainable design principles to the siting, design, and construction of new facilities;
  • More than 116 Federal buildings attained the Energy Star ® label;
  • More than 50 Federal buildings are undergoing the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED TM) certification process (with eight already have been certified); and
  • Federal agencies meet to share Federal successes, compiling sustainable design tools and policies, and developing the business case for sustainable buildings.

In September 2003 report, The Federal Commitment to Green Building: Experiences and Expectations, OFEE recommended the creation of a senior interagency team to "provide strategic direction to Federal agencies and identify the tools needed for them to effectively develop and implement green building strategies." Out of this recommendation, OFEE and several Federal agencies now work together in the form of the Federal Green Building Council, which convened in December 2003. We welcome your participation and assistance in this important work and hope you will join us as we move forward to make the Federal government's assets and operations more sustainable.

The work to date is showing that sustainable design can be operationally and economically viable. Those who have incorporated sustainable design principles and practices into new and existing buildings are seeking improvements - in working conditions and worker productivity, energy efficiency, impacts to the environment and/or costs - and we know we can make even greater progress. Incorporating sustainability principles into buildings is providing people with a better understanding of the vast potential for integrating environmental solutions into other important decision-making efforts.

Through this webpage and other forums, we hope to bring some more recognition to those efforts and encourage even greater progress. Provided below are links to various green building and sustainable design initiatives, resources, and events: