News Brief

Sustainability Goals Really Do Lead to High Performance, Say Feds

Energy, water, waste, and operating costs were all lower in buildings targeting higher performance, according to a new study.

In high-performance federal buildings, energy and water use lower than that of other federal buildings.

Energy use was 23% lower than that of other federal buildings and a whopping 43% lower compared with industry benchmarks nationally.

Image: U.S. General Services Administration
Do good intentions actually result in lower energy and water use? The answer is decidedly yes in federal buildings, according to a new report from the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).

The study compared 100 buildings that meet the Guiding Principles for Sustainable Federal Buildings with 100 “legacy stock” buildings. The Guiding Principles set goals for both new and existing buildings regarding integrative process, energy use, water use, indoor environmental quality, building materials, and climate change risks.

Buildings were distributed across the U.S., and average building age was similar (about 48 years for the high-performing buildings and about 52 years for the legacy stock buildings). The study looked at three years of actual performance data. The 100 buildings meeting the Guiding Principles compared favorably with the legacy stock buildings, showing:

  • 23% less energy use
  • 28% less water use
  • 23% lower operating expenses
  • 9% less waste sent to landfills
  • 2% higher occupant satisfaction rate

“These findings demonstrate the value of high-performance buildings as part of the federal government’s building portfolio,” states the report, which says that 27% of GSA-owned buildings currently meet the Guiding Principles. The findings may be used to justify more high-performance upgrades.

The study also compared the buildings meeting the Guiding Principles to industry-wide benchmarks. The high-performing federal buildings used 43% less energy and 35% less water.

For more information:

U.S. General Services Administration

Published August 6, 2018

Melton, P. (2018, August 6). Sustainability Goals Really Do Lead to High Performance, Say Feds. Retrieved from

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August 21, 2018 - 8:54 am

I will need to read the report in detail, but this is very encouraging news!  It would be good to know if these findings translate similarly to other large real estate holders and higher ed institutions.

August 23, 2018 - 7:51 am

i love this initiative.

November 30, 2018 - 9:00 am

Just as in the title. I never would have expected to say that, but "go feds!" good job! :)