science icon, source: National Cancer Institute

Science and the Environment: Green Building

To evaluate the potential for overlap or fragmentation among federal green building initiatives, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency should lead other federal agencies in collaborating on assessing their investments in more than 90 initiatives to foster green building in the nonfederal sector.

Action:

To help assess the results of investments in individual federal initiatives to foster green building in the nonfederal sector, as well as their combined results, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Energy (Energy), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should lead an effort with other agencies that are implementing green building initiatives to collaborate on identifying performance information, such as shared goals and common performance measures, for green building initiatives for the nonfederal sector.

Progress:

HUD is leading an effort with Energy and EPA to collaborate with other agencies on identifying performance information for green building initiatives for the nonfederal sector (i.e., private, state, local, and tribal entities), as GAO recommended in November 2011. In November 2012, HUD, in consultation with Energy and EPA, issued a preliminary report responding to GAO's recommendation. The report concurred with GAO's finding that, while a number of agencies have collaborated on specific green building initiatives, no single government-wide effort—comparable to that for federal facilities—exists for collaborating on green building initiatives for the nonfederal sector. The report explored the need for additional legislative or executive authority to establish a coordinating entity and concluded that, in the short term, cooperation can best occur within existing federal authorities but that, in the long term, a higher level of centralized collaboration may require additional legislative or executive authority. In November 2013, HUD officials reported plans to survey the agencies identified by GAO in November 2011 and convene a follow-up meeting of these agencies to assess the extent to which common performance measures exist for green building initiatives for the nonfederal sector. In July 2016, HUD developed a work plan to identify performance information on green building initiatives for the nonfederal sector and, in August 2016, began surveying agencies to gather this information. According to the work plan, HUD expects to collaborate with Energy and EPA to issue a report in late 2016 that (1) summarizes the performance measures reported by agencies, (2) identifies common performance measures, and (3) reviews the potential for overlap or fragmentation among green building initiatives for the nonfederal sector. Collaborating across federal agencies could identify more complete performance information to help Congress, agency heads, and the public better assess the results of individual and overall federal efforts to foster green building in the nonfederal sector and the efficiency of these efforts.

  • portrait of
    • Frank Rusco
    • Director, Natural Resources and Environment
    • ruscof@gao.gov
    • (202) 512-3841
  • portrait of
    • David Wise
    • Director, Physical Infrastructure
    • wised@gao.gov
    • (202) 512-2834