Two people wearing hard hats and safety vests stand inside a partially constructed building with a glass front wall and a U.S. seal etched in it.

GSA is building a new U.S. Courthouse in Iowa with sustainability in mind

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GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan recently visited Des Moines, Iowa, where GSA is building an all-electric courthouse. These all-electric buildings support the Biden-Harris Administration’s strategy to help reduce harmful pollutants and emissions by taking advantage of clean electricity from the grid where available.

“This project is a great example of how the construction jobs of today are the clean energy jobs of tomorrow,” Administrator Carnahan said. “By making federal buildings more efficient and sustainable, we can help lower energy costs, create good jobs in communities, and combat the climate crisis. GSA is committed to making sure federal buildings are good neighbors to the communities they serve and models of sustainability and clean energy innovation. We’re grateful to the City of Des Moines for their partnership and to the skilled and dedicated workers who have helped make this project a reality.”

The new U.S. courthouse is designed and to be constructed to run on electricity instead of fossil fuels, which will help achieve a net-zero emissions federal building portfolio by 2045. GSA will pursue LEED Gold certification for the building, which will have a highly reflective cool roof, insulated window glazing, and LED lighting, including occupancy sensors, dimmable light fixtures and daylight harvesting.

Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie and City of Des Moines Development Services Director Erin Olsen-Douglas joined Administrator Carnahan on the tour.

“The courthouse serves as proof that local and federal governments can work collaboratively for the greater good of our communities, country and planet,” Mayor Frank Cownie said. “This ambitious construction project, guided by the administration’s goals toward clean energy, works in concert with our efforts to achieve 24/7 carbon free electricity by 2035 and a Climate Action and Adaptation Plan by next year. This structure also demonstrates that electrification of large-scale buildings is achievable and is a critical strategy to accelerate the shift to clean energy resources, while reducing our dependence on fossil fuel energy resources.”

The Biden-Harris administration has set the ambitious goal of sourcing 100% carbon pollution-free electricity on a net annual basis by 2030, including 50% 24/7 carbon pollution-free electricity. As a primary agency that procures electricity for the federal government, GSA is working with partner agencies to identify energy procurement options and develop strategies for reaching 100% CFE. These actions will promote local, clean energy sources and help catalyze utility scale energy storage, which can help overcome peak energy demands and create a more resilient grid.

The Administrator also discussed GSA’s efforts to strengthen American leadership on clean manufacturing and reduce emissions from building materials on future projects. GSA recently released two requests for information (RFIs) to gather current marketplace insights from industry, including small businesses, on the national availability of concrete and asphalt materials with environmental product declarations, low embodied carbon or superior environmental attributes. GSA will also participate in the first ever Buy Clean Task Force established by The White House Council on Environmental Quality to find ways to harness the federal government’s massive purchasing power to support low-carbon materials.

GSA will continue to integrate best practices like these on our path to decarbonizing the federal footprint and building a more sustainable future.

Read more about how GSA is supporting the Administration's sustainability goals.

Learn more about how all-electric buildings work in this video.

Last Reviewed: 2022-03-21