Biden-Harris Administration officials tout federal progress on spurring clean construction materials as part of Investing in America agenda

American manufacturers are lowering emissions, bringing more sustainable products to market as part of President Biden’s Buy Clean Initiative 

CARLISLE, PA –  Today, as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) announced progress toward boosting American clean manufacturing industries and celebrated the one-year anniversary of its low embodied carbon (LEC) program funded by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the largest climate investment in history. Over the past year there has been a dramatic increase of thousands more environmental product declarations (EPDs) used to identify sustainably-manufactured construction materials in the market, a key goal of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Buy Clean program and the federal Buy Clean Initiative. 

This progress demonstrates how Buy Clean, including GSA’s investments, is catalyzing market demand for LEC materials to boost American innovation, create good-paying jobs and address the climate crisis.

GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan celebrated the anniversary during a visit to the Carlisle Vitro Architectural Glass plant, a supplier of LEC glass for GSA projects in Kansas City, Missouri, and Richmond, Virginia, that are using clean construction materials to upgrade federal buildings. Administrator Carnahan was joined by Jennie Romer, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Pollution Prevention, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

“Through historic investments like the Inflation Reduction Act, President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is proving that we can buy clean and create good jobs for Americans along the way,” said GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan. “Today’s anniversary is a great example of how American manufacturers are ready to meet the need for more sustainable building materials and help achieve the triple win: good jobs, solid value for taxpayers, and healthier communities.”

A year ago today, GSA announced that 11 projects would pilot the procurement and installation of LEC asphalt, concrete, glass and steel — four key energy-intensive construction materials that account for nearly half of U.S. manufacturing greenhouse gas emissions. These LEC materials meet crucial project needs while contributing substantially fewer emissions from their raw materials and the manufacturing process. In November 2023, GSA announced $2 billion in investments for over 150 construction projects to use these cleaner construction materials across the country. GSA engaged with industry through 16 opportunities including six industry days to raise awareness of federal Buy Clean requirements and encourage the growth of LEC materials throughout the construction market.

Since GSA’s pilot launched, manufacturers have published about 17,000 additional Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) in the four material categories, demonstrating that industry is responding to market demand for materials made with lower emissions. EPDs are a key tool for gaining visibility into a product’s environmental impacts through its entire lifetime in a standard, third party-verified format. Promisingly, industry is offering LEC materials at little or no cost premium compared to their conventional equivalents.

According to publicly-accessible data, the increase in North American EPDs over the past year includes: over 14,000 additional EPDs for concrete, a 15% increase; 2,700 new asphalt EPDs, quadrupling the number from a year ago; and additional EPDs in most subcategories of steel, including a 60% increase in the number of EPDs for structural steel plate and two steel manufacturers’ first EPDs ever. American steel manufacturers are demonstrating substantial reductions in the embodied emissions of their products, especially in the categories of hot-rolled sections and cold-formed galvanized steel. In addition, the number of flat glass manufacturers producing glass meeting GSA’s most-stringent top 20% global warming potential (GWP) limits has tripled. 

EPA’s complementary grant program to support the development of EPDs Reducing Embodied Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Construction Materials is using funds from the IRA to further strengthen the market for LEC materials. The grant program will support businesses that manufacture construction materials and products to develop and verify EPDs and a new label program will identify low carbon products, in part by standardizing and improving the quality of data used in EPDs. 

“Under President Biden’s leadership to boost American manufacturing and cleaner construction, EPA is working hand-in-hand with GSA as we launch new programs this summer to provide the support manufacturers need to further advance in disclosing and reducing emissions,” said EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Deputy Assistant Administrator for Pollution Prevention Jennie Romer. “By making it easier for federal purchasers to identify more sustainable construction materials, we are transforming the way we build at a national scale and at the same time, improving the health of our communities.”

GSA anticipates that, if it is able to source LEC materials meeting GSA’s most stringent top 20% limits for all of its IRA-funded projects, the use of those materials alone will avoid the equivalent of over 40,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. That’s comparable to taking about 10,000 gas-powered cars off the road for a year. This embodied carbon emissions reduction estimate is in addition to the 2.3 million tons of operational greenhouse gas emissions -- equivalent to taking a half-million gas-powered cars off the road for a year -- that GSA anticipates avoiding thanks to other IRA-funded work.

During the Administrator’s visit, Vitro Architectural Glass also announced that all Vitro flat glass now meets GSA’s most-stringent top 20% GWP limit. The manufacturer fast-tracked improvements to its industrial processes, equipment, data quality, and overall efficiency as a result of the Federal Buy Clean Initiative, market signals, and engagements. Among other things, Vitro made improvements to the design of its furnaces and found ways to make more efficient use of glass composition materials. These improvements have reduced the greenhouse gas intensity of Vitro’s flat glass by approximately 10% since early 2023. The process of third-party validation of Vitro’s EPD concluded in March 2024. Additionally, in partnership with Advanced Impact Technologies, Vitro was accepted into GSA’s 2023 Green Proving Ground program for a type of secondary window with advanced glazing, which will be evaluated at two federal buildings. 

“As a result of these “Buy Clean” program market signals and engagements, Vitro architectural glass has fast-tracked improvements to its industrial processes, efficiency efforts, equipment, and data quality. In fact, these improvements have reduced the greenhouse gas intensity of Vitro’s flat glass by about 10%,” said Paul Bush, Vitro vice president of technical services and government affairs. “We’re also pleased to be part of GSA’s Green Proving Ground program, which helps demonstrate how products like our high-performing glass and glazing systems can positively impact the environment, building operations, and occupant comfort and safety.

GSA procured Vitro Glass that meets its most-stringent GWP limits for two projects:

  • About 21 metric tons of LEC glass for the Lewis F. Powell Jr. U.S. Courthouse and Annex in Richmond, Virginia, to repair or replace the courthouse windows. 
  • Over 100 metric tons of LEC glass for the Charles E. Whittaker U.S. Courthouse in Kansas City, Missouri. This project is replacing windows using LEC glass from two U.S. manufacturers, including Vitro; both companies now meet GSA’s most stringent GWP limits standards.

The Inflation Reduction Act includes $3.4 billion for GSA to use its buying power to promote the development and manufacturing of LEC construction materials and other ways to make federal facilities more sustainable and cost-efficient. GSA’s Inflation Reduction Act projects will implement new technologies and accelerate GSA’s efforts in achieving a net-zero emissions federal building portfolio by 2045. 

For more information, please visit GSA’s Inflation Reduction Act web page.


About GSA: GSA provides centralized procurement and shared services for the federal government, managing a nationwide real estate portfolio of nearly 370 million rentable square feet, overseeing over $100 billion in products and services via federal contracts, and delivering technology services that serve millions of people across dozens of federal agencies. GSA’s mission is to deliver the best customer experience and value in real estate, acquisition, and technology services to the government and the American people.