New GSA Standards for Federal Buildings Emphasize Performance


by | Mar 19, 2014

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Federal-Center-SouthThe U.S. General Services Administration’s new standards for its federal buildings focuses more on outcomes, or performance, and less on technology.

The Facilities Standards for the Public Buildings Service, also known as the P100, is a mandatory standard that outlines how facilities will be managed, designed and built to achieve higher performance levels and save energy in the 9,200 buildings the GSA owns and leases across the country. The P100 applies to all new construction projects including additions to existing facilities.

Traditionally, the standards have outlined how to meet a specific outcome. The new performance-based P100 only defines the required end and allows its professional partners to find the best technology to achieve it, the GSA says.

For instance, the old P100 required that HVAC systems in all federal buildings use variable air volume technology. The new P100 specifies the target performance for an HVAC system as measured in temperature, humidity, energy efficiency, ventilation and other variables. The designer can decide which technology best achieves that outcome, the GSA says.

The new P100 also provides four acceptable performance levels: a mandatory minimum tier, called the baseline, and three additional tiers that correspond to higher benchmarks.

Project managers can combine tiers on an individual project, according to the new P100. For instance, a project manager could use a baseline standard for insulation but opt for tier 3 for windows to limit solar heat gain on a building in a sunny, but mild climate, the GSA says.

Last year, the GSA began seeking out green building technologies that have the potential to improve economic and environmental performance in federal buildings.

The GSA, through its Green Proving Ground program, uses its own real estate portfolio as a test bed to evaluate the viability of emerging technologies and practices to save energy and water, and reduce operational costs.

Last October the GSA recommended the federal government use either the Green Globes or LEED to gauge environmental performance in its construction and renovation projects. The GSA previously required LEED for its own buildings and recommended LEED for other agencies’ buildings.

Photo: GSA

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