BD&C's Report from the White House Summit on federal sustainable buildings

August 11, 2010


January 27, 2005

Exclusive BD&C Report:
The White House Summit on Federal Sustainable Buildings

Today we begin an exclusive two-part electronic report on the first White House Summit on Federal Sustainable Buildings, held January 24-25 at the White House Conference Center, on Lafayette Square, a few hundred yards from the White House itself.

BD&C’s editor-in-chief, Robert Cassidy, was the only trade magazine editor granted media privileges to cover the summit, which was organized by Federal Environmental Executive Edwin Piñero.

17 federal agencies sign “memorandum of understanding” on sustainability (PDF) Nearly two years in the making, the “MOU” commits federal agencies controlling 75% of the government’s 500,000 buildings and 3.4 billion sf of space to implement “common strategies” for high-performance and sustainable buildings. The signers: Agriculture, Council on Environmental Quality, Defense, Energy, EPA, GSA, HHS, Homeland Security, HUD, Interior, Justice, NASA, Office of Personnel Management, State, Transportation, TVA, and Veterans Affairs.

‘Leave no building behind,’ urges CEQ’s Hannegan
Bryan Hannegen, chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, told 200 federal officials at the White House Summit on Federal Sustainable Buildings that the January 24 memorandum committing 17 federal agencies to sustainable building design was “a big deal for us” at CEQ. “It has been hard-fought, fiercely negotiated, and it’s not just about green buildings, but about making the federal government as efficient as possible,” said Hannegan. “I challenge you to leave no building behind—no more energy use than is necessary, or any waste of taxpayer money.”

The 50th Annual CSI Show™ & Convention
March 28 – April 1, 2006
Las Vegas, NV

Guiding principles of federal agreement on sustainable buildings(PDF)
A memorandum of understanding signed by 17 federal agencies on January 24, 2006, establishes “guiding principles” for the U.S. government to take into account in its building program: 1) employ integrated design and commissioning; 2) cut energy costs by 30% vs. ASHRAE 90.1-2004 and provide measurement and verification; 3) protect and conserve water (20% less than under the Energy Policy Act of 1992); 4) enhance indoor environmental quality (thermal comfort, moisture control, daylighting, low-emitting materials); 5) reduce environmental impact of materials (10% post-consumer recycled content, bio-based content, reduce construction waste at least 50%, eliminate ozone-depleting compounds). The agencies were given 180 days to come up with technical guidance to implement the principles.
Surgeon General: Green buildings could save $75 billion in healthcare costs
The U.S. Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Richard H. Carmona, speaking at the White House Summit on Sustainable Federal Buildings, said that improving building environments could result in $75 billion savings in annual healthcare costs nationally. He cited data from a report that 1) allergies and asthma are spread by poor indoor air quality; 2) mold growth affects the upper respiratory tract; 3) poverty and poor housing conditions negatively affect health. He noted that one in five U.S. schools has IAQ problems.
EPA Kansas City Science and Technology CenterEPA Potomac Yards, Arlington, VAEPA’s Luna cites long-term savings from sustainable design
Luis A. Luna, assistant administrator in EPA’s Office of Administration and Resources Management, told the White House Summit on Federal Sustainable Buildings that achieving a 20% savings in energy costs could yield an $8 per square foot savings over the life of the building. “EPA has found that initial investments in good mechanical systems have payback in 3-5 years,” said Luna.
Bank of America BuildingDeveloper Durst to feds: “Examine your buildings every year”
4 Times Square
Douglas Durst, co-president of New York development firm The Durst Organization, urged 200 federal officials at the White House Summit on Federal Sustainable Buildings to commission their buildings. “We commission our buildings constantly,” he said. “You need to examine your buildings every year.” In the works for Durst: the 580-unit “Helena” condo high-rise (seeking LEED Gold) and the 2.3 million square-foot Bank of America at One Bryant Park (seeking LEED Platinum).
Click for construction photos of The Helena.

The 50th Annual CSI Show™ & Convention
March 28 – April 1, 2006
Las Vegas, NV

GSA’s Winstead urges greater access to public transit for leased government space
David L. Winstead, Commissioner of the GSA’s Public Buildings Service, stressed the need for the government to lease buildings near public transit—one of the goals of the GSA’s Urban Development/Good Neighbor Program. “I do feel we can do more in this arena,” said Winstead, who has been commissioner since October, to attendees at the White House Summit on Federal Sustainable Buildings. In Phoenix, he said, GSA is “working with local people to reduce congestion and use light rail.”
Click for more on GSA’s Urban Development/Good Neighbor Program.

EPA’s Lupinacci: ‘Don’t rely on code requirements for energy performance’
Jean Lupinacci, director of EPA’s Energy Star Commercial and Industrial Branch, advised 200 federal officials in attendance at the White House Summit on Federal Sustainable Buildings, “Don’t rely solely on technology and code requirements for energy performance.” Being “better than code” is “only weakly correlated to energy performance,” she cautioned, adding that, while “the market assumes green buildings are energy efficient, studies show this is not necessarily the case.” Nationally, she said, nearly 2,600 buildings have qualified for Energy Star rating.
Click for more on Energy Star for buildings.
Click for a list of more than 2500 Energy Star buildings. (PDF)

Harvard’s Spengler warns on the health risks of poor indoor air quality
Dr. John D. Spengler of the Harvard School of Public Health told government officials at the first White House Summit on Federal Sustainable Buildings that as much as 30% of the nation’s buildings have indoor health conditions that could lead to mucosal irritation, respiratory problems, and even cognitive disruption. A study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) showed 54% of respondents stating they had “high susceptibility” to these conditions; 71% reported losing productivity as a result of poor IAQ. Spengler also said 6% of Americans report sensitivity to chemicals in the environment.
Click for more on Spengler and IAQ.

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