Sustainable design optimizes building performance and minimizes negative impacts on building occupants and the environment. We incorporate sustainable design and energy efficiency principles into our construction and modernization projects, balancing cost, environmental, societal, and human benefits that help meet our tenant agencies' mission objectives and functional needs.
Sustainable design principles aim to:
- Optimize site potential.
- Minimize non-renewable energy consumption and waste.
- Use environmentally preferable products.
- Protect and conserve water.
- Improve indoor air quality.
- Enhance operational and maintenance practices.
- Create healthy and productive environments.
Sustainable design is an integrated, holistic approach that positively impacts all phases of a building's life-cycle and encourages compromise and tradeoffs.
GSA and sustainable design
Per the 2005 Energy Policy Act , federal agencies must design buildings to achieve energy efficiency at least 30 percent better than ASHRAE 90.1 standards. Designers and energy modelers are encouraged to use our 2020 Energy Use Target Guidance [PDF - 642 KB] to establish energy usage intensity targets and comply with the energy efficiency laws, executive orders, and P100 sections applicable to our construction and modernization projects.
Federal agencies must follow the 2020 Guiding Principles for Sustainable Federal Buildings and optimize buildings' performance while maximizing assets' life-cycle value. Federal agencies must make annual progress toward 100 percent portfolio compliance with the Guiding Principles. Track our progress to meeting federal guiding principles and practices of sustainable buildings in our story map.
Use the Sustainable Design Checklist [PDF - 80 KB] to track new construction and major renovation projects' compliance with the Guiding Principles in the categories of integrated design, energy, water, indoor environmental quality, materials, and resilience. Regional project delivery teams report Guiding Principles compliance, among other sustainability details, via GSA's Kahua Sustainability App.
Per the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 , new GSA buildings and major renovations must:
- Reduce fossil-fuel-generated energy consumption by 80 percent by 2020 and by 100 percent by 2030.
- Manage water from 95th percentile rain events onsite.
- Apply sustainable design principles to siting, design, and construction.
Per Executive Order 14057 (which superseded prior sustainability Executive Orders 13423, 13514, 13693, and 13834), federal government agencies must, among other things:
- Reduce portfolio-wide scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions (onsite combustion and purchased energy) 65 percent by 2030, compared to a 2008 baseline.
- Use 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity on a net annual basis by 2030.
- Pursue building electrification strategies along with carbon pollution-free energy, efficiency, and space reduction or consolidation.
- Design new construction and modernization projects greater than 25,000 gross square feet to be able to achieve net-zero operational emissions by 2030.
- Move toward net-zero emissions from federal procurement, including through a Buy Clean policy promoting the use of construction materials with lower-embodied greenhouse gases.
View our 2018 Impact of High-Performance Buildings study to see how buildings with sustainable design save money, save water, cost less to operate, produce less waste, and have more satisfied occupants than typical buildings.
GSA and LEED
We use the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green building certification system to evaluate and measure achievements in sustainable design. New construction and substantial renovation of GSA-controlled facilities must be LEED® Gold at a minimum.
Sustainable Facilities Tool
Use the Sustainable Facilities Tool as a resource regarding sustainable building principles, materials, and systems. Targeted to help project personnel identify and prioritize cost-effective, sustainable strategies for small projects, the tool helps users understand and select environmentally preferable solutions for renovations, alterations, and leases.
The shortcut to this page is www.gsa.gov/sustainabledesign