A whopping $2 billion in investment funding will support more than 150 cleaner construction projects as part of the nation’s climate crisis agenda, the United States General Services Administration announced.
The projects will use low-embodied carbon (LEC) materials that are considered to be cleaner, part of the Biden-Harris administration’s Investing in America agenda. The projects are also expected to spur the market for U.S.-made low-carbon asphalt, concrete, glass, and steel.
Plus, the projects further the Buy Clean Initiative that prioritizes the purchase of these building materials with lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions associated with their production, use, and disposal.
The projects are across 39 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, and the funding stems from the Inflation Reduction Act, which was approved last year and included numerous provisions for renewable energy projects and climate crisis investments. Namely, the IRA provisioned nearly $3.4 billion for GSA to invest in federal buildings.
Carbon-Intensive Materials Account for Almost Half of U.S. Emissions
These carbon-intensive materials — asphalt, concrete, glass, and steel — account for nearly half of all U.S. manufacturing greenhouse gas emissions and represent 98% of the construction materials purchased and funded by the government for its infrastructure investments, according to the GSA. The steel industry has already seen some investments to decarbonize manufacturing as one of the most carbon-intensive industries.
“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,” GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan said in a statement. “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.”
Carnahan and White House Advisor John Podesta announced the funding in Topeka, Kansas, where the GSA plans to invest about $25 million for LEC construction materials for the Frank Carlson Federal Building and Courthouse to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. The GSA said it will replace the windows and doors with blast-resistant aluminum frames and insulated LEC glass that will reduce the building’s energy use and improve the building’s useful life.
In addition, the concrete pavement sidewalks and parking area will be upgraded with LEC concrete, addressing deterioration, correcting tripping hazards, and improving accessibility. The project is expected to be completed in 2025.
Financing Set for Specific Materials
Of the 150 projects identified by the GSA for funding: $384 million is designated for asphalt; $767 million for concrete; $464 million for glass; and $388 million for steel.
The expanded funding comes after the GSA conducted a pilot that began in May and will conclude in November. The pilot implemented the EPA’s Interim Determination, 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.”