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Sustainable Buildings

As outlined in Executive Order (EO) 13693, Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade, the goal of sustainable buildings is to decrease the amount of GHG emissions and energy consumption by improving building efficiency, performance, and management by the following:

  • Ensuring that all new construction of Federal buildings greater than 5,000 gross square feet (GSF) that enters the planning process is designed to achieve energy net-zero and, where feasible, water or waste net-zero by 2030 (beginning in 2020).
  • Identifying at least 15% by number or total square footage of NIH existing buildings above 5,000 GSF that will, by 2025 comply with the Guiding Principles for Federal Leadership in High Performance and Sustainable Buildings, and making annual progress toward 100% conformance for NIH building inventory.
  • Identifying a percentage of NIH existing buildings above 5,000 square feet intended to be energy, waste, or water net-zero buildings by fiscal year 2025 AND implementing actions that will allow these buildings to meet the target.
  • Include in all new agency LEASE solicitations over 10,000 rentable square feet:
  • Criteria for energy efficiency (either as required performance specifications or as source selection evaluations).
  • Requirements for building lessor disclosure of carbon emission or energy consumption data for portions of the building occupied by NIH.
  • Reporting building energy as part of the agency Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions for newly solicited leases over 10,000 rentable square feet.
  • Including in the building planning for new buildings or leases cost-effective strategies to optimize sustainable space usage and consideration of existing community transportation planning and infrastructure, including access to public transit.
  • Ensuring all new construction, major renovation, repair, and alterations of agency buildings include appropriate design and deployment of fleet charging infrastructure.
  • Including the incorporation of climate-resilient design and management elements into the operation, repair, and renovation of existing agency buildings and the design of new agency buildings.

To demonstrate progress in sustainable buildings and overall sustainability, NIH publishes an annual Sustainability Implementation Plan (SIP) and reports progress to their parent government agency, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS adheres to the requirements in Section 14 of EO 13693 and publishes an annual Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan to demonstrate overall agency progress.

What are Sustainable Building practices?

Green or sustainable building is the practice of planning, designing, constructing, operating, maintaining, and removing buildings in ways that conserve natural resources, reduce energy and water consumption, improve the health of occupants and minimize pollution.

NIH has established a sustainable building program to guide building-related decisions across all campuses.

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Example of Sustainable Building Design at NIH: Porter Neuroscience Research Center, Phase II Rendering

Click here to learn more about the Sustainable Building Design of the Porter Neuroscience Research Center.

Progress toward Facility Energy Intensity Reduction Goal

E.O. 13693 Section 3(a) requires NIH to promote building energy conservation, efficiency, and management. Section 3(a)(i) requires NIH to reduce building energy intensity by 2.5 % annually through the end of FY 2025, relative to a FY 2015 baseline. The E.O. 13514 and EISA 2007 FY 2015 goal was a 30% reduction relative to a FY 2003 baseline. In the chart below, the red bar represents the NIH FY 2003 baseline. The green bar represents the NIH FY 2015 actual reduction and new E.O. 13693 baseline. The blue bars show NIH annual progress on achieving these targets. The orange bar shows the NIH FY 2025 target per E.O. 13693. The percentage at the top of each bar represents the reduction or increase from the FY 2003 baseline. A negative percentage value indicates that the energy intensity has been decreased compared to the FY 2003 baseline.

NIH Progress Toward Facility Energy Intensity Reduction Goals


Requirements for Guiding Principles for Sustainable Federal Buildings (Guiding Principles)

The Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) issued the following six Guiding Principles that apply to existing buildings and new construction or modernization:

  1. Employ integrated design
  2. Optimize energy performance
  3. Protect and conserve water
  4. Enhance indoor environmental quality
  5. Reduce environmental impact of materials
  6. Assess and consider climate change risks.

Section 3(h) of EO 13693 states that agencies will identify a percentage, by number or total Gross Square Feet (GSF), of existing buildings above 5,000 GSF that will comply with the Guiding Principles by FY 2025. The NIH Target: By FY 2025, 15 percent of the total GSF of existing buildings larger than 5,000 square feet will comply with the Guiding Principles for Sustainable Federal Buildings.

EO.13693 Section 3(h)(iii) also requires that agencies identify, as a part of the planning requirements of section 14 of this order, a percentage of the existing buildings above 5,000 GSF intended to be energy, waste, or water net-zero buildings by FY 2025 and implementing actions that will allow those buildings to meet that target.

The NIH Target: By FY 2025, 20 percent of NIH buildings larger than 5,000 square feet will be energy, waste, or water net-zero buildings.

Current NIH Sustainable Building Projects

Sustainable Building Guides and Resources

​​​Click here to view the 2016 NIH Sustainability Implementation Plan

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