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WHAT THEY ARE SAYING: GSA’s Buy Clean Inflation Reduction Act requirements for low-embodied carbon construction materials receive praise from labor leaders, industry, and environmental organizations

WASHINGTON—Marking a major milestone for the Biden-Harris Administration’s industrial decarbonization goals, this week the U.S. General Services Administration announced a pilot of new requirements for the procurement of substantially lower embodied carbon construction materials in GSA projects funded by the Inflation Reduction Act, as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. The requirements were developed with market insights gathered from domestic manufacturers, local suppliers, small businesses, and environmental and labor groups. Tuesday’s announcement advances  President Biden’s federal sustainability goals and the Administration’s efforts to build the clean energy economy by generating demand for cleaner materials and creating good manufacturing jobs.

Leaders from across the country praised the announcement. Here’s what they’re saying:

Roxanne Brown, Vice President at Large, United Steelworkers: “The USW appreciates the opportunity to work with the administration as it sets Buy Clean policies. USW members proudly manufacture a wide range of materials that are necessary for revitalizing our nation’s infrastructure, and today’s announcement from GSA is a step toward ensuring their jobs remain competitive.” [Tweet, 5/17/23]

Laura O’Neill Kaumo, President/CEO, American Concrete Pavement Association: “Yesterday afternoon, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) announced a pilot program of new requirements for substantially lower embodied carbon construction materials projects funded by $2.15 billion from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The IRA continues to be a driving force in incentivizing the lowering of carbon in our everyday lives. We applaud the White House for its commitment to continuing to address climate change and we look forward to meeting with GSA as we do a deeper dive into the pilot program and have a better understanding of how this will impact paving projects around our nation. #climatechange #concretepaving #IRA” [Statement, 5/17/23] 

Asphalt Institute: “The Asphalt Institute commends the United States General Services Administration (GSA) for moving forward with a limited pilot program. This is a crucial step to understanding different pragmatic scopes applicable when procuring low-carbon construction materials. It is refreshing to see inter-agency collaborations between the GSA and FHWA, with the Federal Highway Administration leading the way to establish appropriate industry averages by working with relevant construction material industries. We hope this pilot program paves the way for collaborations between construction material producers, domain engineers, and the federal 'Buy Clean' procurement decision makers and is a first step toward holistic, sustainable decision-making. 🌎 #sustainable #construction” [Statement, 5/18/23] 

Scott Paul, President, Alliance for American Manufacturing: “A Buy Clean policy built upon existing Buy America requirements has the potential to boost American manufacturers and workers who are doing the hard work to build a cleaner industrial sector. The details are critical to ensuring that our nation addresses its climate goals while simultaneously strengthening the industrial base… By adopting a bifurcated approach to integrated and electric arc furnace steel production, GSA got the first of many key details correct. GSA’s announcement ensures that no American steelworkers are aimlessly excluded from supplying government procurement markets. At the same time, it creates powerful incentives to accelerate the capital investments necessary for clean energy and climate innovation throughout the American steel sector.” [Statement, 5/16/23]

Jason Walsh, Executive Director, Blue Green Alliance: “We applaud the GSA for their thoughtful leadership and for incorporating stakeholder feedback into this new, updated Buy Clean framework. Getting these policies right today will help to ensure a livable climate, cleaner air, and more manufacturing jobs for U.S. workers tomorrow. With this release, GSA and the Biden administration are taking decisive steps to help ensure that federal procurement—like all federal activities—serves to reduce GHG emissions, improve health and environmental outcomes in communities harmed by environmental injustice, and create good jobs for workers across the United States.” [Statement, 5/16/23]


Ryan Fitzpatrick, Senior Director for Domestic Policy, Third Way: “These standards are a huge step forward for the Biden-Harris Buy Clean Initiative. This unlocks a $2 billion budget that GSA can use to procure low-carbon materials, jumpstart the market for cleaner construction products, and give American manufacturers a leg up on the competition. You have to hand it to the Administration for its comprehensive strategy to make producers in the US cleaner and more competitive. We’ve got the Department of Energy investing in innovation and the IRS issuing tax credits to keep our industries and workers at the cutting edge of low-carbon manufacturing. Now GSA is boosting demand for those products and reducing the risk for private investors to follow suit.” [Tweet, 5/17/23]


Neal Elliott, Director Emeritus, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy: “ACEEE commends the GSA for issuing a steel specification that balances the need for immediate reductions in embodied carbon in steel purchases with the need to incentivize continued domestic investments in primary steel decarbonization.” [Statement, 5/8/23]


Ian Wells, Federal Industrial Policy Lead, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC): “By implementing these standards, GSA will leverage public spending to help spur a rebirth of American industrial manufacturing in a much smarter and cleaner context than before. As these domestic industries get cleaner, however, low-carbon procurement standards must adapt to continue to incentivize industrial manufacturers to achieve the level of emissions reduction we need to meet climate targets.” [Statement 5/16/23]


Yong Kwon, Senior Policy Advisor, Sierra Club: “The announcement marks an important step in making sure that public and private investments currently being made to dramatically reduce the pollution intensity of industrial facilities will have a space to prove their competitiveness. It also showcases the urgency of ongoing efforts to collect data and the critical work that remains to be done to set standards that would move all facilities towards eliminating fossil fuel usage in their manufacturing process.” [Statement, 5/16/23]


Natasha Vidangos, Associate Vice President, Innovation and Technology Policy, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF): “GSA’s pilot program is a critical first step to develop markets for clean construction materials that will lower pollution and create U.S. jobs. Buy Clean puts federal purchasing power to work by ramping up clean solutions in this crucial, yet high emitting, part of our economy. More work lies ahead to ensure that we maximize the potential of the Buy Clean program to develop strong and competitive markets for cleaner materials, while ensuring fair outcomes for workers and communities.” [Statement, 5/16/23]


Rebecca Dell, Senior Director, Industry, ClimateWorks Foundation: “Making building materials (cement, steel, &c) emits more climate pollution than all vehicles on all roads.🎉Today @USGSA took a big step forward, announcing it will use low-GHG materials in 11 public construction projects with funds from IRA. Great to see!” [Tweet, 5/16/23]


Mike Williams, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress: “If we are going to tackle the climate crisis, we need to tackle emissions from steel, cement, and other energy intensive materials in a way that builds up and supports American industry. The GSA’s low carbon materials pilot program will help demonstrate how to do this through procurement initiatives like Buy Clean. Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, the GSA has the opportunity and imperative to change how it sources products for the projects it builds. We look forward to examining the impact of this pilot project to help hone future climate and procurement policy.” [Tweet, 5/16/23]


Anish Tilak, Manager Carbon Free Buildings, Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI): “We are excited to see GSA’s low embodied carbon construction pilot take flight, and look forward to further public-private collaboration to catalyze the market for low-carbon concrete, asphalt, glass, and steel.” [Tweet, 5/18/23]



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 and follow us at @USGSA.