GSA buys American-made sustainable glass for Virginia courthouse as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda
Project will install low embodied carbon windows at Powell Courthouse in Richmond
WASHINGTON — During Climate Week, the U.S. General Services Administration awarded a $5.3-million option to buy windows made of low embodied carbon glass included in an existing $16.5-million renovation project at the Lewis F. Powell Jr. U.S. Courthouse in Richmond, Virginia, as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda.
This first procurement of low embodied carbon materials and GSA’s LEC pilot are a part of President Biden’s Federal Buy Clean Initiative, which promotes the use of clean construction materials made in the U.S. in federally funded projects.
The project’s scope involves repair and replacement of windows as well as deteriorated roof, gutter, and storm-drain components to stop leaks and interior water damage. With this investment, the project will incorporate low embodied carbon glass to replace the windows, eliminate leaks, and increase energy efficiency of the building. This glass is made in the U.S. by Vitro Architectural glass and meets one of the limits (top 40%) established in GSA’s Interim IRA Low Embodied Carbon Material Requirements [PDF - 145 KB] for flat glass. The product meets the courthouse’s needs while generating fewer emissions from manufacturing, with a third-party verified global warming potential of 1,350 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent per metric ton.
GSA has $2.15 billion to spend on low embodied carbon construction materials, and is expected to need over one million square feet of glass once the full program is launched. This purchase is a good sign that low-carbon glass is available, and market research gathered through the pilot is showing that even lower-embodied carbon glass (top 20%) is available.
“We’re thrilled to be working with homegrown manufacturers who are striving to create their products in a way that’s less harmful to the environment,” said GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan. “American industry is proving that they can innovate, create good jobs, and drive sustainability in how we build and maintain the federal footprint. I look forward to seeing even more products in the market at low levels of greenhouse gas emissions.”
“GSA is pleased to make this investment in the Powell Courthouse,” said Joanna Rosato, Acting Regional Administrator for GSA’s Mid-Atlantic Region. “This project is an opportunity to support the court’s mission through sustainable improvements to an iconic historic structure in downtown Richmond.”
GSA awarded the overall Powell Courthouse renovation contract to Whiting-Turner following a competitive procurement. The project is scheduled to be completed by October 2024.
The Inflation Reduction Act includes $3.4 billion for GSA construction and modernization projects, emerging and sustainable technologies, and related sustainability and environmental programs. These investments are expected to catalyze research, development, and availability of low embodied carbon materials, while delivering more sustainable and cost-efficient high-performance facilities. These projects will implement new technologies and accelerate GSA’s efforts toward a net-zero emissions federal building portfolio by 2045. Through these investments, GSA plans to avoid more than 2.3 million metric tons of carbon emissions, the equivalent of taking a half-million gasoline-powered passenger vehicles off the road for one year.
The Biden-Harris Administration is leading by example to tackle the climate crisis through the Federal Sustainability Plan, which sets a goal of net-zero operations by 2050.
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 about $87 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. For more information, visit GSA.gov and follow us at @USGSA.