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Construction Criteria Base

GSA Criteria

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These documents are available in the following format:
Adobe Acrobat (PDF)

Title Date Downloads
P-100 Facilities Standards for the Public Buildings Service

The Facilities Standards for the Public Buildings Service establishes design standards for new buildings, major and minor alterations, and work in historic structures for the Public Buildings Service (PBS) of the General Services Administration (GSA). This document contains both performance based standards and prescriptive requirements to be used in the programming, design, and documentation of GSA buildings.

327 pages
03-2015 3.6 MB
P-120 Project Estimating Requirements for the Public Buildings Service

This cost-estimating and cost-management criteria document supports building construction programs within the Public Buildings Service (PBS) of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). This document presents the technical and administrative requirements for routine cost-estimating and cost-management tasks involved in a construction project's planning and execution stages, and defines cost-estimating practices and standards for professional services. This document replaces the previously issued GSA Handbook P 3440.5 and all associated versions.

The instructions and criteria in this document are applicable to programming, design, construction management, and other professional-services contracts that involve cost-estimating and cost-management tasks. The criteria for practices and documentation requirements apply to all professional services activities, whether provided through contract or by in-house GSA/PBS staff.

92 pages
01-2007 7.7 MB
The Building Commissioning Guide

The Building Commissioning Guide provides the overall framework and process for building commissioning from project planning through tenant occupancy, keys to success within each step and the ways that each team member supports the process of commissioning. While recognizing that every project is unique and that the required activities will vary on every project, this Guide provides recommendations, minimum requirements and best practices based upon industry guidance and GSA experience. encourages the use of these best practices to ensure completeness and consistency nationwide and to address the facility needs of the Customer Agency.

100 pages
04-2005 5.9 MB
Design Excellence Policies and Procedures 2005 6.9 MB
Fire Safety Retrofitting in Historic Buildings 08-1989 961 KB
Forcible Entry Demos - Air-Blast Resistant Window Systems 07-10-2003 440 KB
Green Building Certification System Review (PNNL-20996)

Section 436(h) of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) requires GSA's Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings to evaluate green building certification systems every five years to identify a system and certification level "deem(ed) to be most likely to encourage a comprehensive and environmentally sound approach to the certification of green buildings." EISA directs the GSA Administrator to provide a recommendation, based on this analysis, to the Secretary of Energy who, in consultation with the Department of Defense and GSA, formally identifies the system(s) to be used across the federal government.

GSA completed and published its most recent evaluation of green building certification systems in March 2012. GSA commissioned the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to conduct a fact finding of all the green building certification systems, tools and standards currently in the market. In its analysis (PNNL-20996), PNNL found over 160 certification systems, standards, and tools in the marketplace. To better focus the review, PNNL used the following three screening criteria:

  • Does the system employ whole building evaluations;
  • Is the system available within the US market; and
  • Does the system have third-party certifications

Three certification systems passed the screening criteria: Green Building Initiative's Green Globes®, U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design® (2009), and the International Living Building Institute's Living Building Challenge™ (2011). Following screening, these three systems were then evaluated against a list of detailed criteria summarized below:

  • Independence — assessors have no stake in outcome
  • Availability — assessors are available to review buildings
  • Verification — documented verification method
  • Transparency — documented approach for inclusion of public comments in standard development and updates
  • Consensus based — per OMB circular A-119 & National Technology Transfer & Advancement Act
  • Robustness — efficient and sustainable use of water, energy, and other natural resources; federal requirements are met for resource use as well as indoor environmental quality, building system controls, siting, integrated design, and renewable energy
  • System Maturity — effective links are available to the latest tools and standards; system included components to track performance post occupancy; system is consistently updated
  • Usability — affordable, technical knowledge to use the system is readily available, well defined and easily understood, professional rigor
  • National Recognition — recognized academically, within the private market and federal sector

High performance building requirements for new construction and existing buildings from the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) and Executive Orders 13423 and 13514 form the foundation for the criteria that GSA applied in this review. These requirements included performance standards relating to energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, water use, waste reduction, materials use and employee commuting for all federal facilities. The report showed that none of the green building certification systems cover 100 percent of federal green building requirements for new construction, major renovations, and existing buildings; however, Green Globes aligned with more of the federal requirements for new construction while LEED aligned with more of the federal requirements for existing buildings.

For more information, please visit GSA's green building certification system review website at:

280 pages
03-2012 2.7 MB
Green Courthouse Design Concepts 07-01-1997 111 KB
GSA Courtroom Lighting - Criteria Evaluation and Energy Use Study 03-2006 4.6 MB
GSA LEED Applications Guide 02-01-2005 2 MB
GSA LEED Cost Study 10-01-2004 3.8 MB
M2, Metric Design Guide 10-01-1993 3.1 MB
Mechanical Lift Analysis (Accessibility Method for Accommodation of Physically Disabled People in the U.S. Courthouse Courtrooms)

An analysis of mechanical lifts in U.S. courthouse courtrooms was commissioned by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Courthouse Management Group and completed in March 2003. The intent of this Analysis is to: (a) develop a comprehensive understanding of the fundamental problems with current lift system designs and installations; and (b) provide recommendations that serve as the basis for detailed performance criteria to eliminates these problems on future projects. The recommendations drawn from this Analysis should help all those concerned to better plan for the incorporation of the mechanical lift system into courtrooms at the appropriate time in the design process, with the least impact on the accommodation of functions in the courtroom well.

205 pages
03-10-2003 13 MB
The New Sustainable Frontier: Principles of Sustainable Development

This guide to sustainable development will help readers move beyond existing "green" and "high-performance" strategies that provide incremental improvements, to ones that will sustain the Government's operations within the scale of the Earth's closed system. The "Guide" and its four-section "Appendix" include concepts, tools and strategies for operationalizing sustainability that will simplify every-day decision-making and provide guidance for achieving long-term goals.

261 pages
09-2009 16.4 MB
NISTIR 4821 Envelope Design Guidelines for Federal Office Buildings: Thermal Integrity and Airtightness 03-01-1993 2.2 MB
PBS-140 Child Care Center Design Guide 07-2003 2 MB
PBS-PQ260 Metric Design Guide 09-01-1995 134 KB
Project Planning Guide

This Project Planning Guide has been developed to assist all of those who develop GSA's Capital Program in evaluating, developing, and implementing federal facilities projects.

148 pages
2005 12.3 MB
Real Property Sustainable Development Guide 889 KB
The Site Security Design Guide 06-2007 25.2 MB
Sound Matters:  How to Achieve Acoustic Comfort in the Contemporary Office 12-2011 3.6 MB
Standard Level Features and Finishes for U.S. Courts Facilities 04-05-1996 189 KB
Sustainable Building Rating Systems Summary

Section 609 of GSA's Appropriations Bill for fiscal year 2006 (P.L. 109-115) asked GSA to report on its use of sustainable building rating systems. GSA chose to have a separate report done by independent experts to articulate criteria and reasons for using a rating system and to research more fully what is available to the public.

In drafting its report on Green Building Rating Systems, GSA sought a credible, third-party organization that would examine all the possibilities for the use of rating systems. The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (one of the national laboratories managed by the Department of Energy) is an independent, academically solid organization that is well acquainted with green building. In addition, as a National Lab, they maintain rigorous standards for peer review. Of note, the owners of the Rating Systems reviewed the descriptions of their systems to ensure accuracy; and outside experts reviewed the findings and analysis.

The Sustainable Building Rating Systems Summary is organized in sections which sequentially collect, narrow and filter building rating system information to those which would be fitting for GSA's business objectives. Each of the rating systems examined has merits, and GSA will continue to evaluate them, and others, as they develop to determine how they may be applied to GSA projects in the future.

55 pages
07-2006 581 KB
U.S. Courts Design Guide; includes revisions through June 2008 05-2007 4.2 MB