White House Announces Low-Carbon Manufacturing and Construction Initiatives
The Biden administration recently announced the intent to clean up the industrial sector, with a focus on emissions reduction. Part of the initiative will focus on production of low-carbon steel and aluminum used for wind turbines and solar panels. The program would also lead to development and distribution of “clean concrete we need to upgrade our transportation infrastructure,” according to a White House release.
To that end, the Council on Environmental Quality and White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy are establishing the first “Buy Clean Task Force.” The task force will use the government’s purchasing power to acquire low-carbon materials manufactured in U.S. factories. This directly involves use of low-carbon materials in construction projects under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021.
The Task Force will develop recommendations that include:
· Prioritizing steel, concrete and pollutants for consideration in both federal procurement and federally funded projects
· Increasing supplier reporting and transparency of embodied emissions, offering incentives and assistance to both improve reporting and reduce emissions
· Introducing pilot programs to encourage federal procurement efforts of clean construction materials
The General Services Administration (GSA), which manages a nationwide federal real estate portfolio, will introduce national low-carbon concrete and sustainable asphalt standards for Land Port of Entry projects that are specifically funded through the Infrastructure Law.
At the same time, the Department of Transportation (DOT) will support use of low-carbon materials in developing federal transportation projects.
A new pilot program will A new DOT pilot program will target key products and to increase use of Environmental Product Declarations, which report on a product’s components and their environmental impacts. The agency is also setting up an Embodied Carbon Working Group to examine and implement actions that reduce lifecycle emissions of construction materials used in transportation infrastructure.
Industry response to the announcement has been mixed. Brian Turmail, vice president of public affairs and strategic initiatives with the Associated General Contractors of America told Construction Dive that while “some states have set up limited Buy Clean programs, (they) are new and their impacts on material supply chains have not been fully tested.”
However, the U.S. Green Building Council applauded the move, with Ben Evans, the organization’s telling Construction Dive: “I think the federal government really has the opportunity to reshape the market for these materials.”
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