High Performance and Sustainable Buildings

Executive Order (EO) 13693, Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade, dated March 19, 2015 sets forth goals and objectives applicable to sustainable buildings. Specifically, EO 13693 calls for Federal Agencies to " improve building efficiency, performance, and management by identifying, beginning in June of 2016, as part of the planning requirements of section 14 of this order, a percentage of at least 15 percent, by number or total square footage, of the agency’s existing buildings above 5,000 gross square feet that will, by fiscal year 2025, comply with the revised Guiding Principles for Federal Leadership in High Performance and Sustainable Buildings (Guiding Principles), developed pursuant to section 4 of this order, and making annual progress toward 100 percent conformance with the Guiding Principles for its building inventorycalls on agencies to meet a revised set of sustainable building Guiding Principles in at least 15 percent of existing buildings above 5,000 gross square feet (GSF). EO 13693 revoked EO 23423 of Junary 24, 2007 and EO 13513 of Octover 5, 2009." The Implementing Instructions for Executive Order 13693, Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade dated June 10, 2015 provides implementing guidance associated with EO 13693 requirements.

On February 26, 2016, The White House Council on Environmental Quality, Office of Federal Sustainability, issued the 2016 version of the Guiding Principles in two documents: “Determining Compliance with the Guiding Principles for Sustainable Federal Buildings”, which outlines evaluation criteria on which the Guiding Principles will be scored, and the Guiding Principles for Sustainable Federal Buildings and Associated Instructions,” which, which provides instructions, guidance and recommended practices.

Guidance and Policy

Federal Leadership in High Performance and Sustainable Buildings Memorandum of Understanding (2006).

U.S. Department of Energy Federal Energy Management Program 2016 Guiding Principles for Sustainable Federal Buildings Updates Crosswalk: Existing Buildings

U.S. Department of Energy Federal Energy Management Program 2016 Guiding Principles for Sustainable Federal Buildings Updates Crosswalk: New Construction and Modernation

Federal Buildings Personnel Training Act

OMB Circular A-11, Section 55 - Energy and Transportation Efficiency Management


2008 Guiding Principles Facility Evaluation Checklist (Facility managers should use this checklist to evaluate their facilities against the "Sustainable Building" goal for the 2008 Guiding Principles)

AIRMaster+     Is a free online software tool that helps users analyze energy use and savings opportunities in industrial compressed air systems. Use AIRMaster+ to baseline existing and model future system operations improvements, and evaluate energy and dollar savings from many energy efficiency measures. AIRMaster+ provides a systematic approach to assessing compressed air systems, analyzing collected data, and reporting results.

BEES     The Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability (BEES) software brings to your fingertips a powerful technique for selecting cost-effective, environmentally-preferable building products. Developed by the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) Engineering Laboratory the tool is based on consensus standards and designed to be practical, flexible, and transparent. BEES Online, aimed at designers, builders, and product manufacturers, includes actual environmental and economic performance data for 230 building products.

BEES measures the environmental performance of building products by using the life-cycle assessment approach specified in the ISO 14040 series of standards. All stages in the life of a product are analyzed: raw material acquisition, manufacture, transportation, installation, use, and recycling and waste management. Economic performance is measured using the ASTM standard life-cycle cost method, which covers the costs of initial investment, replacement, operation, maintenance and repair, and disposal. Environmental and economic performance are combined into an overall performance measure using the ASTM standard for Multi-Attribute Decision Analysis. For the entire BEES analysis, building products are defined and classified according to the ASTM standard classification for building elements known as UNIFORMAT II.

BEES User Manual

Building Energy Software Tools

Portfolio Manager    Portfolio Manager is an interactive energy management tool that allows you to track and assess energy and water consumption across your entire portfolio of buildings in a secure online environment. Whether you own, manage, or hold properties for investment, Portfolio Manager can help you set investment priorities, identify under-performing buildings, verify efficiency improvements, and receive EPA recognition for superior energy performance.  Requires facilities to establish facility accounts.  Accounts for all facilities have been already setup by the Department or Bureaus.  Contact your bureau Sustainability POC for login username and password.

Roof Savings Calculator (RSC)    The Roof Savings Calculator was developed as an industry-consensus roof savings calculator for commercial and residential buildings using whole-building energy simulations. It is built upon the DOE-2.1E engine for fast energy simulation and integrates AtticSim for advanced modeling of modern attic and cool roofing technologies. An annual simulation of hour-by-hour performance is calculated for the building properties provided based on weather data for the selected location. Annual energy savings reported are based upon heating and cooling loads and thus this calculator is only relevant to buildings with a heating and/or cooling unit.

Construction/Design Guidelines

Advanced Buildings and Technologies    A building professional's guide to more than 90 environmentally-appropriate technologies and practices. Architects, engineers and buildings managers can improve the energy and resource efficiency of commercial, industrial and multi-unit residential buildings through the use of the technologies and practices described in this web site. The following design and construction issues are covered: indoor air quality; water conservation; waste management; electricity production; non-toxic materials; recycled materials; daylighting; and energy efficiency. New technologies are added to the site during the updating process.

Advanced Energy Design Guide Series from ASHRAE    These guides offer contractors and designers the tools, including recommendations for practical products and off-the-shelf technology, needed for achieving a 30% energy savings compared to buildings that meet the minimum requirements of ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-1999. These guides have been developed through the collaboration of ASHRAE, the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IES), and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), with support from the Department of Energy (DOE), to help meet all of an owner's energy performance requirements. Sector-specific guides are available for: small hospitals and healthcare facilities; lodging facilities; small warehouses and self-storage; schools; small retail buildings; small office buildings. ASHRAE and its partners have made these guides available for download (PDF) at no charge.

Advanced Energy Design Guide: Medium to Small Buildings    This guide provides the tools, including recommendations for practical products and off-the-shelf technology, needed for achieving a 50% energy savings compared to buildings that meet the minimum requirements of ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-2004. The guide applies to small to medium office buildings up to 100,000 ft2, including a wide range of office types and related activities such as administrative, professional, government, bank or other financial services, and medical offices without medical diagnostic equipment. Also provides a greater emphasis on integrated design as a necessary component in achieving 50% energy savings.

Federal Green Construction Guide for Specifiers    EPA has partnered with the Federal Environmental Executive and the Whole Building Design Guide (WBDG) to develop the Federal Green Construction Guide for Specifiers. The intent of the document is to address the need for a comprehensive guide for procuring green building products and construction services within the Federal government.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System ®    This voluntary, consensus-based national standard for developing a high-performance, sustainable building was created by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). LEED can be applied to every building type and phase of a building lifecycle. Specific programs exist for the following building types: new commercial construction and major renovation projects; multiple buildings and on-campus building projects; existing building operations and maintenance; commercial interiors; core and shell development projects; homes neighborhood development, schools, and retail operations.

Water-Saving, High Efficiency Urinals  The latest generation of water saving, high-efficiency urinals must use less than 0.5 gallons per flush (gpf) (1.9 liters) and meet performance standards for quality in order to qualify for EPA's WaterSense label. 


General Knowledge and Training

Green Infrastructure    Green infrastructure is an approach to wet weather management that is cost-effective, sustainable, and environmentally friendly. Green Infrastructure management approaches and technologies infiltrate, evapotranspire, capture and reuse stormwater to maintain or restore natural hydrologies.

Alliance for Water Efficiency's Resource Library    This library contains on-line resources on water conservation and efficiency. Subject matter covered in the library include: drought management, alternative supplies, conservation programs, water saving tips, residential efficiency, and metering.

Combined Heat and Power: Effective Energy Solutions for a Sustainable Future    Issued by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), this report, dated 1 December 2008, highlights combined heat and power (CHP) as a realistic solution to enhance national energy efficiency, ensure environmental quality, promote economic growth, and foster a robust energy infrastructure.

Green Roofs Tree of Knowledge (TOK)    Green Roofs TOK is a database on research and policy related to green roof infrastructure. This database is composed of detailed summaries of research and policy papers in English from around the world. The purpose of the database is to provide users with a single resource that aggregates existing knowledge on the benefits of green roofs and the policy options available.

EPA's Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Home Page     The starting point for EPA's Indoor Air Quality Program.

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Guide    Includes the best practices for design, construction, and commissioning of new non-residential buildings. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and an industry consortium developed this reference.

National Roster of Environmental Conflict Resolution and Consensus Building Professionals     The roster search and referral system is accessible to anyone contemplating the use of consensus building and dispute resolution services where environmental, natural resources, or public lands issues are involved.

. Sustainable Federal Buildings Database    The system is sponsored by the DOE Federal Energy Management Program. The system provides easy access to a compilation of federal agency policies and guidelines on energy efficient, sustainable government facilities. Exemplary policies from other levels of government are also included. Documents included range from general policy directives to specific design criteria and operating requirements.

Whole Building Design Guide     A web-based portal providing government and industry practitioners with one-stop access to up-to-date information on a wide range of building-related guidance, criteria and technology from a 'whole buildings' perspective. Currently organized into two major categories—Design Guidance and Project Management. Development of the WBDG is a collaborative effort among federal agencies, private sector companies, non-profit organizations and educational institutions.

Wildflower Suppliers Directory    This directory has been compiled by Lady Bird Johnson’s Wildflower Center to make it easier to find businesses that sell native plants or seeds and provide professional landscape or consulting services.


Building Materials Reuse Association's (BMRA)    The BMRA is a non-profit educational organization whose mission is to facilitate building deconstruction and the reuse/recycling of recovered building materials.

Energy Efficient Building Association    The Energy Efficient Building Association promotes a systems approach to ensure energy efficiency, building durability, occupant comfort and health, and environmental responsibility. Its Web site provides downloadable information (in PDF format) for energy- and resource-efficient buildings and assists small, low-rise commercial buildings with specific criteria for design, construction, and comprehensive rehabilitation.

ENERGY STAR ®    A government-backed program helping businesses and individuals protect the environment through superior energy efficiency.

EPA Green Power Partnership    This partnership encourages electricity customers to voluntarily purchase or generate green power. Green Power Partners must use green power in an amount that meets or exceeds EPA’s minimum benchmarks. EPA offers market information, communications assistance and recognition. Many familiar Fortune 500 companies, cities, states, federal agencies, universities and small businesses are Green Power Partners.

Green Roofs for Healthy Cities    Green Roofs for Healthy Cities' mission is to increase the awareness of the economic, social, and environmental benefits of green roof infrastructure across North America and rapidly advance the development of the market for green roof products and services.

Healthy Building Network (HBN)    A national network of green building professionals, environmental and health activists, socially responsible investment advocates and others who are interested in promoting healthier building materials as a means of improving public health and preserving the global environment.

National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS)    NIBS is a non-profit, non-governmental organization bringing together representatives of government, the professions, industry, labor and consumer interests to focus on the identification and resolution of problems and potential problems that hamper the construction of safe, affordable structures for housing, commerce and industry throughout the United States.

Plant Conservation Alliance    A consortium of ten federal government Member agencies and over 260 non-federal  Cooperators representing various disciplines within the conservation field: biologists, botanists, habitat preservationists, horticulturists, resources management consultants, soil scientists, special interest clubs, non-profit organizations, concerned citizens, nature lovers, and gardeners. PCA Members and Cooperators work collectively to solve the problems of native plant extinction and native habitat restoration, ensuring the preservation of our ecosystem. This site contains state or regionally-specific guides on native plant landscaping, grant programs, in invasive species.

WaterSense    A voluntary public-private partnership that identifies and promotes high performance products and programs that help preserve the nation’s water supply (EO 13423, Section 2(c)).


Basics of Daylighting in a Green Environment (Web-based, On Demand)    The use of natural sunlight, known as daylighting, to illuminate a building can save energy, reduce operating costs, create visual appeal, and enhance occupant health and productivity. The U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED™) rating system encourages the use of daylighting to achieve high performance buildings. This course provides an introduction to the use of daylighting in commercial spaces. The course objective is to show why daylighting should be considered, the basic guidelines of using daylighting and some words of caution when using certain daylighting techniques.

Building Commissioning: Ensuring High Performance Green Buildings (Web-based, On Demand)    Building commissioning facilitates all parties working together to ensure that the facility functions as intended. Fine-tunes building systems to operate at optimum efficiency which saves money and minimizes wear and tear. Ensures thorough and complete O&M manuals and training are provided to the operations staff. Includes a process of systematic testing of building systems which helps identify problems more accurately and quickly than the standard punchlist inspection.

HVAC Management for High Performance Existing Buildings (Web-based, On Demand)    By incorporating Green Building principles, commercial building operators can achieve a high performance building that results in improved efficiency, decreased utility costs, and increased life of the building. Federal facility managers and operators are now required by Executive Order to instill water and energy efficiency measures by meeting the goals set forth in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. These requirements instruct Federal facility managers and operators to achieve steadily improved energy and water efficiency through the year 2015. Specifically, key requirements give Federal facility operators impetus to achieve greater efficiency and sustainability in operations. The target audience is building owners and operators, design teams for major renovations, contractors, and others responsible for the operation, maintenance, and upgrades of buildings.

LEED for New Construction 2.2 Study Guide (Web-based, On Demand)    This course contains 7 modules in an enhanced web-based powerpoint format. The module topics include an introduction to the LEED 2.2 rating system and extensive coverage of the six categories of LEED, from Sustainable Sites to Innovation and Design Processes. These modules are the time-tested product of the Southface Commercial Green Building Services team and have been delivered "live" to thousands of LEED-AP prospects. The presentations cover the intent, requirements, issues and strategies associated with each of the credits, focusing on the level of knowledge you will need to pass the Exam to become a LEED Accredited Professional.

Re-Tuning Commercial Buildings (Web-based, On Demand)    Developed by the DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, this purpose of this course is to enable you to reduce operating cost and provide energy savings to the building you are responsible for. The intended audience for this course is onsite employees responsible for day-to-day building operations; offsite contractors (retro-commissioning agents or control vendors) hired to improve a building's energy efficiency; and college students interested in entering this field. The focus is on large (100,000 sq. ft.) commercial buildings (office buildings, malls, and schools), but the concepts and techniques presented can be applied to any type and size of facility that has a building automation system (BAS).

Water Efficiency for High Performance Commercial and Institutional Buildings (Web-based, On Demand)    This module provides an overview of water efficiency with the intention of evaluating various types of commercial and institutional water uses, water efficient technological options available, and potential water conservation savings that can be achieved.

Office of Facilities and Environmental Quality
Office of the Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary for Administration
U.S. Department of Commerce

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Page last updated:November 1, 2016