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Invest in High Performance Building Design

Built in 1933, Atlanta’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Building was recently renovated to make it a high performance building that incorporates the latest sustainable design features in a historic structure. Architect: Lord, Aeck & Sargent. 



AIA Position

The AIA urges Congress to pass legislation that encourages the design and construction of federal high-performance buildings that save taxpayers money, create more productive work spaces and reduce our dependence on energy. In particular, the AIA supports passage of the High-Performance Federal Buildings Act (H.R. 3371 in the last Congress) that gives federal agencies the tools they need to create the next generation of high performing buildings.


High performance buildings increase occupant productivity and comfort, last longer, are safer and more sustainable and cost less to maintain over their life cycles. The 2005 Energy Policy Act defines a high performance building as one that “integrates and optimizes all major high-performance building attributes, including energy efficiency, durability, life-cycle performance, and occupant productivity.”

In 2008 members of Congress formed the bipartisan High Performance Building Congressional Caucus to educate policymakers and the public about the importance of well-designed buildings to the country’s economy, productivity and environment. The AIA is a founding member of the private sector coalition that supports the Caucus.

Policymakers have already taken a number of steps to increase awareness of and adherence to high-performance design principles and standards. In recent years several states have introduced, and in some cases passed, legislation requiring that state-funded public building projects meet high-performance building standards. A number of state governors have signed similar executive orders. A wide array of tax incentives, rebates, and grants have been put in place at the federal, state, and local levels to encourage various means of increasing the energy efficiency of buildings. But more needs to be done.

The High-Performance Federal Buildings Act (H.R. 3371 in the last Congress) would give federal agencies the tools they need to design and construct high performance buildings. Among other things, the legislation would:

    • Require federal agencies to ensure that life-cycle costs (i.e., the sum of investment, capital, installation, energy, operating, maintenance, and replacement costs) are considered during the design or major building projects

    • Require GSA to establish federal building commissioning standards modeled on existing private sector standards and guidelines for examining and evaluating a newly constructed or renovated building to ensure it meets the owner's requirements for use.

    • Require GAO to study and report on the use of integrated design processes and building information modeling (BIM) for the design and construction of federal buildings.

    • Establish the position of the Director of the Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings to assist federal agencies in using BIM, commissioning, and integrated design processes.

Useful Links

High Performance Building Congressional Caucus Coalition

NIBS High Performance Building Council

GSA Office of Federal High Performance Green Buildings


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