Biden Announces $2 billion for Lower-carbon Construction at Federal Buildings

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  • Historic GSA investment through the Inflation Reduction Act will fund 150 low-carbon materials projects in communities nationwide
  • Announcement advances Biden-Harris Administration’s Buy Clean Initiative, under which the federal government is, for the first time, prioritizing the purchase of cleaner industrial materials

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) announced a $2 billion investment for more than 150 construction projects that use Lower-carbon Construction materials, known as “low-embodied carbon” (LEC) materials, as part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Investing in America agenda. The funding will support projects across 39 states, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and will catalyze the market for American-made low carbon asphalt, concrete, glass and steel. This investment from the Inflation Reduction Act will expand America’s industrial capacity for manufacturing goods and materials of the future, tackle the climate crisis, and create good-paying jobs for American workers in communities across the country. The announcement furthers the Biden-Harris Administration’s Buy Clean Initiative, under which the federal government is, for the first time, prioritizing the purchase of asphalt, concrete, glass and steel that have lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions associated with their production, use, and disposal.

Administrator Robin Carnahan announced the investments alongside White House Senior Advisor John Podesta during a visit to Topeka, Kansas as part of the Investing in Rural America Event Series. GSA plans to invest about $25 million for Lower-carbon Construction materials to help the Frank Carlson Federal Building and Courthouse reduce its greenhouse gas emissions while improving efficiency, safety, and comfort. GSA will replace the windows and doors with blast resistant aluminum frames and insulated Lower-carbon Construction glass that will reduce the building’s energy use and extend the building’s useful life. The concrete pavement sidewalks and parking area will be upgraded with LEC concrete to sustainably address deterioration, correct tripping hazards, and improve accessibility. The project is slated to be designed this fiscal year, with construction in 2025.

“Today’s announcement shows how the Biden-Harris Administration is delivering on our commitment to use the federal government’s buying power to strengthen American leadership in clean manufacturing and jobs,” said GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan. “By incorporating clean construction materials in more than 150 projects across the country, we’re helping create good-paying jobs in the clean manufacturing industries of the future and sending a clear signal that the homegrown market for these sustainable products is here to stay.”

“Today’s announcement from GSA shows that the federal government is leading by example on tackling the climate crisis by spurring demand for low-carbon manufacturing,” said John Podesta, Senior Advisor to the President for Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation. “This is exactly what President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is all about–boosting American innovation, building a clean energy economy, and creating good-paying jobs all across the country.”

The Inflation Reduction Act—the largest climate investment in history—provided $3.375 billion for GSA to invest in federal buildings to help reduce carbon emissions and catalyze innovation, primarily by acquiring and installing Lower-carbon Construction materials for construction projects. More on GSA’s Lower-carbon Construction projects can be found in this fact sheet [PDF – 976 KB].

Related Article: Biden Awards $7 Billion For America’s First Clean Hydrogen Hubs

Asphalt, concrete, glass and steel are some of the most carbon-intensive construction materials–accounting for nearly half of all U.S. manufacturing greenhouse gas emissions, and representing 98% of the construction materials purchased and funded by the government for its infrastructure investments. By increasing demand for LEC materials, these investments will strengthen America’s industrial base, catalyze innovation, and stimulate job growth in industries that produce next-generation materials.

GSA has identified over 150 federal government buildings projects that will prioritize the procurement of LEC materials. This includes:

  • $384 million for asphalt.
  • $767 million for concrete.
  • $464 million for glass.
  • $388 million for steel.

The array of investments include facade and window replacements, structural repairs, repaving projects, and seismic upgrades in buildings ranging from the historic Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House in New York City to the Henry M. Jackson Federal Building in Seattle, to land ports of entry across the northern and southern borders. Through the life of the projects, these investments are estimated to reduce up to 41,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions and support over 6,000 jobs annually.

The projects mark another step toward achieving President Biden’s federal sustainability goals, including a net zero emissions federal building portfolio by 2045 and net zero emissions procurement by 2050, while supporting good American construction and manufacturing jobs.

The projects will be informed by lessons learned from GSA’s pilot, launched in May and running through November. The pilot implemented the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Interim Determination [PDF] which established the definition of “substantially lower” greenhouse gas emissions based on Environmental Product Declarations.

“EPA is thrilled to be partnering with GSA and other federal agencies to support construction projects that cut harmful climate pollution, protect public health, and help grow the economy in communities across our county,” said EPA Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe. “At EPA, we are also working with the construction materials manufacturing industry and NGOs to help track the climate impacts of their operations and to develop a labeling program that will clearly identify lower carbon construction materials in the marketplace.”

“Today’s announcement from GSA is an integral part of how the IRA reduces U. S. greenhouse gas emissions and keeps us on track to reduce our emissions 40% by 2030,” said U.S. Senate Majority Leader Schumer. “Working in combination with multiple other agencies and programs, this funding helps create a market for low- and zero-carbon materials, further incentivizing industrial manufacturers to take advantage of other IRA programs aimed at helping them reduce their emissions. This ecosystem of incentives approach is part of what makes the IRA so impactful and resilient, and I am proud to see GSA getting this money, that I fought so hard for, out the door.”

“In addition to lowering the carbon footprint of maintaining and upgrading federal buildings, these projects will also support high quality workplaces for federal employees,” said PBS Commissioner Elliot Doomes. “We look forward to implementing these smart, impactful investments in communities across the country – providing safe, efficient work environments for federal agencies and helping support American manufacturing along the way.”