and Executive Order 13514, Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance (2009).

Together, these mandates establish more than 20 objectives for federal high-performance buildings. The objectives include reducing the use of energy, potable water, fossil fuels, and materials; reducing greenhouse gas emissions; improving indoor environmental quality; increasing the use of recycling and environmentally preferable products; minimizing waste and pollutants through source reduction; pursuing cost-effective innovative strategies to minimize consumption of energy, water, and materials; leveraging agency acquisitions to foster markets for sustainable technologies, materials, products, and services; locating new buildings in sustainable locations; participating in regional transportation planning; and strengthening the vitality and livability of the communities in which federal facilities are located. EISA requires agencies to eliminate fossil fuel energy use in new buildings and major renovations by 2030. Executive Order 13514 directs that beginning in 2020 and thereafter, all new federal buildings that enter the planning process should be designed to achieve zero-net-energy use by 2030.1

Each mandate specifically calls for the use of a life-cycle perspective or life-cycle costing, establishes interim and longer-term goals and objectives, and establishes baselines and performance measures for evaluating progress in achieving the goals. EISA also established the Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings within the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).


In 2010, GSA’s Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings asked the National Academies to appoint an ad hoc committee of experts to conduct a public workshop and prepare a report that identifies strategies and approaches for achieving a range of objectives associated with high-performance green federal buildings. To meet its charge, the committee was asked to identify the following:

  • Challenges, barriers, and gaps in knowledge related to developing high-performance green federal buildings.
  • Current best practices and ways to optimize resources for achieving high-performance green building objectives during planning, design, construction, operations, and maintenance for new and existing facilities.
  • Best practices for reporting the outcomes of investments in high-performance green federal buildings in a transparent manner on public federal Web sites.
  • Approaches, tools, and technologies for overcoming identified challenges, barriers, and gaps in knowledge.

The committee recognized up front that many other reports, papers, and books have been published and databases have been created related to various aspects of high-performance green buildings. In addition, many initiatives are under way within federal agencies and other public and private organizations, universities, nonprofit entities, and community groups, across the country and internationally. To try to capture all of the valuable and thought-provoking ideas, lessons learned, and evidence-based data from these initiatives would not be possible.

The committee determined it would focus on identifying examples of important initiatives taking place and available resources and on ascertaining how these examples and resources could be used to


1The executive order defines a zero-net-energy building as one that is designed, constructed, and operated to require a greatly reduced quantity of energy to operate, to meet the balance of energy needs from sources of energy that do not produce greenhouse gases, and to therefore result in no net emissions of greenhouse gases and be economically viable.

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