Buy Clean: Federal Funds to Have Low-carbon Strings Attached
The U.S. government is vowing to buy lower-carbon construction materials—and to require projects using federal funds to do the same.
Details of the federal government’s so-called Buy Clean Initiative—a program that will require procurement of construction materials that have lower carbon footprints than standard products—are still under development by the Buy Clean Task Force, but the Biden administration has made it clear not only that more agencies are adopting procurement standards but also that all federally funded projects will have to follow them.
Inspired by state-level programs like California’s 2017 law (which mysteriously does not include concrete), the federal government announced its own forthcoming Buy Clean plans in December 2021 amid other initiatives designed to make the government carbon neutral by 2050.
The General Services Agency (GSA) released its Buy Clean standards for concrete and asphalt earlier in 2022, but the list of target materials for the wider federal government is expanding to include steel and flat glass. “These four construction materials are some of the most carbon-intensive, accounting for nearly half of all U.S. manufacturing [greenhouse gas] emissions and representing 98% of the government’s purchased construction materials,” according to a White House press release.
And the goal is to spread low-carbon procurement to all federally funded projects. The U.S. Department of Transportation, for example, has stated its intention to consult environmental product declarations (EPDs) and set embodied carbon policy for transportation projects it funds.
But how and when standards will be developed and applied by different agencies remains to be seen. The concrete industry is well positioned to provide EPDs and has long-established strategies for reducing embodied carbon, but other industries are not as far along.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will be supporting improved standardization of EPDs for construction materials, as well as providing technical assistance to U.S. manufacturers—and developing a low-carbon label for construction products—as we reported in our coverage of the Inflation Reduction Act.
More about Buy Clean initiatives
Melton, P. (2022, September 30). Buy Clean: Federal Funds to Have Low-carbon Strings Attached. Retrieved from https://www.buildinggreen.com/newsbrief/buy-clean-federal-funds-have-low-carbon-strings-attached