Federal Requirements for Sustainable Buildings by Law and Regulation

For sustainable buildings, Federal agencies are required to comply with the following laws and regulations.

Also see Guiding Principles for Federal Leadership in High-Performance and Sustainable Buildings.

Executive Order 13514

Signed on Oct. 5, 2009, E.O. 13514—Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance—expands on Federal energy reduction and environmental performance requirements set in E.O. 13423, as well as outlines specific management strategies to improve sustainability, including managing existing buildings to reduce energy, water and materials consumption.

E.O. 13514 mandates implementation of high-performance sustainable Federal building design, construction, operation and management, maintenance, and deconstruction by:

  • Ensuring all new Federal buildings, entering the design phase in 2020 or later, are designed to achieve zero net energy by 2030 [Section 2(g)(i)]

  • Ensuring at least 15% of existing agency buildings and leases (above 5,000 gross square feet) meet theĀ Guiding Principles by Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 and that the agency makes annual progress toward 100% compliance across its building inventory [Section 2(g)(iii)]

  • Pursuing cost-effective, innovative strategies (e.g., highly-reflective and vegetated roofs) to minimize consumption of energy, water, and materials [Section 2(g)(iv)]

  • When adding assets to agency building inventories, identifying opportunities to: consolidate and eliminate existing assets, optimize the performance of portfolio property, and reduce associated environmental impacts[Section 2(g)(vi)]

  • Ensuring rehabilitation of Federally owned historic buildings utilizes best practices and technologies in retrofitting to promote long-term viability of the building [Section 2(g)(vii)]

  • Advancing regional and local integrated planning by ensuring that planning for new Federal facilities and leases consider sites that are pedestrian friendly, near existing employment centers, and accessible to public transport; and emphasize existing central cities and, in rural communities, existing or planned town centers [Section 2(f)(iii)]

  • Minimizing the generation of waste and pollutants through source reduction. [Section 2(e)(i)]

  • Decreasing agency use of chemicals where such decrease will assist the agency in achieving greenhouse gas reduction targets. [Section 2(e)(ix)]

  • Diverting at least 50% of non-hazardous solid waste by the end of fiscal year 2015. [Section 2(e)(ii)]

  • Reducing printing paper use and acquiring uncoated printing and writing paper containing at least 30% post-consumer fiber. [Section 2(e)(iv)]

  • Increasing the diversion of compostable and organic material from the waste stream. [Section 2(e)(vi)]

  • Advancing sustainable acquisition to ensure that 95% of new contract actions are energy-efficient (ENERGY STAR or FEMP designated), water-efficient, biobased, environmentally preferable [e.g.,, Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) certified], non-ozone depleting, contain recycled content, or are non-toxic or less-toxic alternatives, where such products and services meet agency performance requirements;

Energy Independence and Security Act 2007

EISA of 2007 mandates energy intensity reductions per FY relative to a 2003 baseline. EISA 2007 also requires:

  • The use of energy-efficient lighting fixtures and bulbs in Federal buildings (Section 3313)

  • Each Federal agency to ensure that major replacements of installed equipment, renovation or expansion of existing space employ the most energy-efficient designs, systems, equipment, and controls that are life-cycle cost-effective (Section 434)

  • Federal agencies to lease building that have earned an Energy Star label; some exemptions are provided—see Section 435 (b) for exemptions (Section 435)

  • Application of sustainable design principles to the siting, design, and construction of buildings subject to the standards (Section 433)

  • Thirty percent of the hot water demand in new Federal buildings (and major renovations) to be met with solar hot water equipment provided it is life cycle cost-effective. (Section 523)

EISA 2007 lists specific agency requirements, such as:

  • Requiring that the General Services Administration, in transmitting to Congress a prospectus of a proposed facility, must include "…an estimate of the future energy performance of the building or space and a specific description of the use of energy efficient and renewable energy systems, including photovoltaic systems, in carrying out the project" (Section 323)

  • Directing the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to issue revised Federal building energy efficiency performance standards. The revised standards specify that buildings must be designed to reduce fossil fuel-generated energy consumption by the following percentages as compared to a similar building in FY 2003: 55% in 2010, 65% in 2015, 80% in 2020, 90% in 2025, and 100% by 2030. This directive is being met by DOE's proposed Fossil Fuel Rulemaking. (Section 433)

Executive Order 13423

Executive Order (E.O.) 13423 requires that 15% of the existing Federal capital asset building inventory of each agency incorporate the Guiding Principles for Sustainable Existing Buildings by the end of the calendar year 2015. This initially applies to buildings over 5,000 gross square feet. (Section 2(f)).

For more information, see Guiding Principles for Federal Leadership in High-Performance and Sustainable Buildings.

Energy Policy Act of 2005

EPAct 2005 states that if life cycle cost-effective, Federal buildings design should:

  • Achieve energy consumption levels that are at least 30% below the levels established in the version of ASHRAE Standard or the International Energy Conservation Code as appropriate (Section 109)

  • Apply sustainable building design principles to the siting, design, and construction of all new and replacement buildings (Section 109)

  • Implement water conservation technologies that are life-cycle cost-effective if water is being used to achieve energy efficiency (Section 109).

In addition:

  • Title 10 Part 435—Energy Conservation Voluntary Performance Standards for New Buildings; Mandatory for Federal Buildings establishes performance standards to be used in the design of new Federal commercial and multifamily high-rise buildings.

  • Title 10 Part 436—Federal Energy Management and Planning Programs establishes procedures for determining the life-cycle cost-effectiveness of energy conservation measures and for setting priorities for energy conservation measures in retrofits of existing Federal buildings.

  • EPAct 2005 builds upon the EPAct of 1992, which required all agencies to install energy and water conservation measures that have a payback period of less than 10 years.

  • "Agencies should require the procurement of ENERGY STAR and FEMP-designated products in new service contracts and other existing service contracts as they are recompeted, and should, to the extent possible, incorporate such requirements and preferences into existing contracts as they are modified or extended through options" (Federal Register. Volume 74, No. 48. 10 CFR 436. Final Rule. DOE. March 2009).

Executive Order 13327

In February 2004, E.O. 13327—Federal Real Property Asset Management—mandated that executive branch departments and agencies improve their real property asset management. Agencies were requested to "recognize the importance of real-property resources through increased management attention, establish clear goals and objectives, improve policies and levels of accountability and take other appropriate action". Agencies were mandated to:

  • Promote efficient and economical use of real property
  • Increase agency accountability and management attention to real property reform
  • Establish clear goals and objectives in relation to real property.

National Energy Conservation Policy Act

NECPA serves as the underlying authority for Federal energy management goals and requirements. Signed into law in 1978, it is regularly updated and amended by subsequent laws and regulations. NECPA is the foundation for most current energy requirements and annual reporting.