Green building is receiving increased attention in the public sector in the United States. Over the past ten years, public sector organizations have gone from “testing the waters” with green building pilot projects to developing wide-reaching policies that incorporate green building practices and standards as a formal part of capital project decision processes. A variety of approaches have been employed at the federal, state, and local levels that encourage or require green building practices on public sector projects. To date, however, there has been no systematic evaluation of the pros and cons of these policy options to provide a basis for organizations considering how best to construct a program to meet the needs of its specific context. This paper identifies, compares, and contrasts options that have been incorporated as part of green building programs for states and other public sector organization seeking to motivate green building practices in their capital projects and facilities. Three categories of options are considered: Policy, Program, and Evaluation options. The paper evaluates alternatives within each of these categories according to their potential social, environmental, and economic impacts as well as their likelihood of implementation success within the context of public agencies. The findings of this paper contribute a palette of options for policymakers to consider when drafting policies for their organizations, along with program options to be considered by those who must implement the policies. This work contributes a foundation for future research to further understand the relative effectiveness and impacts of policy elements on green building practice within public sector organizations.

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