GSA Administrator Highlights Progress on Low-Carbon Construction Material Procurement in Ohio
September 15, 2022
Inflation Reduction Act Will Further Bolster the Biden-Harris Administration's Buy Clean Initiative
TOLEDO, OH – Today, U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Administrator Robin Carnahan joined White House officials and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg in Ohio to highlight the Biden-Harris Administration's Buy Clean Initiative. Administrator Carnahan discussed how GSA is working to catalyze markets for low-carbon construction materials and highlighted the successful use of clean construction materials at GSA's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law-funded projects.
In March, GSA issued new standards for the concrete and asphalt used in nationwide GSA construction, modernization, and paving projects – the first standards in the U.S. to apply beyond a local jurisdiction. To date, GSA has completed seven Bipartisan Infrastructure Law-funded (BIL) paving projects using the new asphalt standards, all of which were awarded to and completed by small or disadvantaged businesses.
The historic passage of the Inflation Reduction Act provides a boost to these efforts with $3.375 billion that will allow GSA to invest in federal buildings with lower-carbon materials and sustainable technologies, and leverage emerging clean technologies that help achieve greater carbon reductions and catalyze American innovation. These investments help boost the competitiveness of American manufacturers developing sustainable materials and technologies.
"Using domestic, lower-carbon construction materials is a triple win – creating good-paying American jobs, reducing energy costs, and tackling climate change to ensure a healthy planet for the next generation," said GSA Administrator Carnahan. "At GSA, we've already started deploying standards that help reduce emissions and advance sustainable projects across the country with little to no additional cost – while supporting small businesses along the way."
GSA's concrete and asphalt standards require construction contractors to provide a product-specific cradle-to-gate Type III environmental product declaration (EPD). An EPD is a third-party-verified summary of the primary environmental impacts associated with a product's extraction, transportation, and manufacture. GSA's asphalt standard requires at least two environmentally-preferable techniques or practices to be used during the material's manufacture or installation. These options include bio-based or alternative binders, recycled content, and reduced mix temperatures -- in other words, best practices that reduce fossil fuel use and environmental impacts.
Under GSA's low embodied carbon concrete standard, contractors are asked to provide concrete that reflects a 20% reduction in the amount of GHG emissions, or "embodied carbon," associated with its production. GSA's first projects to use concrete since the standard's March 2022 issuance anticipate compliance, including a BIL-funded land port of entry near Yuma, Arizona.
GSA will also issue a request for information next week to hear directly from manufacturers -- including small businesses -- on the availability of construction material and products with lower embodied carbon. Findings from that RFI will help the government understand industry trends and opportunities.
The investments enabled by the Inflation Reduction Act will reduce carbon emissions from the federal supply chain by millions of metric tons per year, save millions of dollars in energy costs, and support the achievement of GSA's sustainability goals.
GSA's Climate Action and Sustainability page provides more information on our leadership in tackling the climate crisis and investing in a more sustainable future.
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 approximately $75 billion in annual 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. For more information, visit GSA.gov and follow us at @USGSA.