The U.S. General Services Administration is stepping up its green-buildings effort, with the launch of a $2-billion program to upgrade more than 150 courthouses, office buildings and border stations across the country using low-embodied-carbon construction materials.
The burst of funding, which GSA announced Nov. 6, will go to projects in 39 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and feature low-carbon asphalt, concrete, glass and steel.
The funding is a major share of the $3.38 billion GSA received for federal buildings improvements in the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, also called the Climate Act.
With GSA’s new push, the government “is leading by example on tackling the climate crisis by spurring demand for low-carbon manufacturing,” John Podesta, senior adviser to the president for clean energy innovation and implementation, said in a statement.
According to GSA, the funded projects will involve the procurement of just over $2 billion in construction materials. The agency says that includes $384 million for asphalt, $767 million for concrete, $464 million for glass and $388 million for steel.
Those materials account for almost half of the manufacturing sector’s greenhouse gas emissions and 98% of construction materials bought and funded by the federal government for its infrastructure projects, says the agency.
Texas has the largest number of projects under the new program, with 22, followed by New York, with 11, Vermont, with nine, and California and Maine, each with eight.
Among the projects and allocations are $11 million to repair and replace roads and parking areas at the Champlain, N.Y., Land Port of Entry; and the Joseph F. Weis Jr., federal courthouse in Pittsburgh, which will receive $16 million for LEC, concrete and steel. Funds will complete repairs of what GSA says is a “crumbling loading dock.” Work will include “replacing corroded steel members, delaminated and spalled concrete and damaged asphalt,” according to the agency.
Also on the list is the Claude Pepper Federal Building in Miami, which will get $13 million for low-carbgon glass for more than 280,000 sq ft of windows. GSA said the improvements will cut energy use and save on energy costs.
The Mike Mansfield Federal Building in Butte, Mont., is to receive $8 million for low-carbon concrete and steel to support a seismic retrofit, while advancing safety, building performance and historic preservation, according to GSA.
The new program follows a GSA pilot program, initiated in May, that applies to 11 building projects. It extends through November.
The low-carbon construction materials effort is part of the Biden administration's "Buy Clean Initiative," which includes purchasing greener materials.
The American Institute of Architects praised the GSA announcement. Lakisha Ann Woods, AIA's executive vice president and chief executive officer, said in an emailed statement, "This initiative aligns seamlessly with our ongoing efforts to promote sustainable and green practices in architectural design to address the pressing climate crisis."
Woods added that "this type of investment in clean construction will lead to environmentally conscious design solutions and further spur American innovation.
Environmental organizations also welcomed GSA's program. Ian Wells, the Natural Resources Defense Council's federal industrial decarbonization advocate, said in a statement, "By leveraging the federal government's purchasing power to buy cleaner concrete, steel and other industrial materials, the Biden administration is making a major step forward to cut industrial emissions, increase jobs and make American industries more competitive globally."