The Biden administration is not waiting for Congress to pass the Build Back Better Act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from federal buildings.
The General Services Administration seeks to accelerate the testing and adoption of sustainable technologies in federal buildings and to raise the bar for sustainability standards in government construction projects.
The Energy Department, for its part, spends $ 13 million to modernize and modernize 17 federal facilities to reduce emissions and energy costs.
The GSA and the Department of Energy announced the plans as a preview of improvements federal buildings would see under the nearly $ 2,000 billion Build Back Better Act, which was passed by the House but has not yet been passed by the Senate.
The two agencies announced the plans last week, ahead of President Joe Biden’s executive order setting zero-emission targets for federal buildings and vehicles. But the projects will help the federal building portfolio go zero emissions by 2045.
Beyond energy efficiency, funded agencies seek to make their facilities more resilient to climate change and ensure business continuity in the event of a major natural disaster.
Among the projects, the IRS is pursuing a near-zero energy efficiency and resilience project that will allow the agency to operate for up to 30 days off the grid in the event of a power failure.
Customs and border protection are securing funding to upgrade the Ramey border patrol station and headquarters facilities in Puerto Rico, which face severe hurricanes and tropical storms that can cause power outages for months.
At the Pentagon, the Washington Headquarters Service, which provides administrative and managerial support to DoD components in the National Capital Region, plans to reduce its power consumption and backup power capabilities that will allow for off-grid operation. during outages.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, at a December 1 press conference, called the investments “a preview of what will happen once the full Build Back Better program is adopted.”
“By equipping federal buildings with technologies to reduce water and energy use and carbon emissions, the federal government is leading by example and saving taxpayers money by lowering energy bills.” , said Granholm.
The GSA, meanwhile, is looking to accelerate the development of sustainable technologies through its Green Proving Ground program, which has tested more than 80 next-generation construction technologies since the program began in 2011.
The GSA deployed 23 technologies in federal buildings under the Green Proving Ground program, saving $ 16 million per year.
âNew and innovative businesses can test their new products and services in federal buildings. In doing so, they are able to grow and sell in the private sector. We want federal buildings to be a laboratory for these new innovations, âsaid GSA administrator Robin Carnahan.
GSA and the Energy Department, in a request for information which closed on Tuesday, asked for comment on technologies such as high-efficiency solar panels and carbon capture technologies that could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from federal buildings.
Carnahan and Granholm announced the Federal Building upgrades to the New Carrollton Federal Building, which underwent renovations from 2012 to 2016. These upgrades reduced the building’s energy use by 62% and water use by half.
Carnahan said improvements to the New Carrollton Federal Building reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20,000 metric tonnes, the equivalent of what 2,400 homes produce in a year.
âIt is possible to renovate a 30-year-old building so that it consumes much less energy and even creates a little. Federal and local authorities may work together to support communities and create great green jobs. It is possible to get a big return for taxpayers and it is entirely possible to create a more sustainable future for our families. This is what we want to replicate, âCarnahan said.
Granholm called New Carrollton’s investments a “quadruple win” that creates jobs, supports federal employees, helps the environment and saves money.
Renovations to the New Carrollton Federal Building save $ 2.5 million per year in energy costs and continue to pay dividends. Every million dollars spent on construction projects, Granholm said, translates to 20 years of direct and indirect employment.
The 1.2 million square foot New Carrollton Federal Building was constructed in 1994 and serves as the workplace for at least 4,400 federal employees, most of them IRS employees.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) Said these renovation projects would give federal employees a reason to return to office and, in turn, help the local economy.
âIt will make a difference for the employees to come to work, which is what we need. We have too many people staying at home. It’s not bad in and of itself, but we don’t have enough people to grow our economy the way we want, âHoyer said.
Carnahan said the New Carrollton Federal Building is just one example of what the Biden administration is seeking to do as part of the Build Back Better plan, and urged Congress to pass the nearly $ 2 spending program. Trillion dollars as soon as possible.
âWe need to embark on other projects like this as soon as the bill can be passed and signed by the president. These will be well paying jobs. They will be unionized jobs. They’re going to be whatever we want in cutting edge innovation. The President’s programâ¦ would be the biggest investment in the fight against climate change in US history, âCarnahan said.
As part of the Build Back Better Act, the GSA plans to invest more than $ 7 billion in low-carbon building materials, emerging technologies, electric vehicles and charging stations. Carnahan said the GSA is also working to improve its construction and sustainability standards.
âThis is important because if the federal government raises the bar on what is expected in building construction, then it is easier for local governments and the private sector to follow suit,â Carnahan said.