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Biden-Harris Administration Announces New Buy Clean Actions to Ensure American Manufacturing Leads in the 21st Century

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan, and Deputy National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi Announced the Actions While Visiting Cleveland-Cliffs Direct Reduction steel plant in Toledo

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Today, as America’s manufacturing resurgence continues, the Biden-Harris Administration is announcing new actions under its Federal Buy Clean Initiative in Toledo, Ohio, to spur the development of low-carbon construction materials made in America while supporting good-paying jobs. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, U.S. General Services Administration  Administrator Robin Carnahan, and Deputy National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi announced the Federal Government will prioritize the purchase of key low carbon construction materials, covering 98% of materials purchased by the Federal Government, while visiting a Cleveland-Cliffs Direct Reduction steel plant in Toledo.

The Cleveland-Cliffs Direct Reduction steel plant represents the future of U.S. clean manufacturing, producing a lower-carbon intermediary feedstock product that is integrated into steel plate used in a wide variety of products purchased by the Federal Government, including automobiles, electricity grid transformers, bridge decks, offshore wind platforms, naval submarines, and train tracks.

The Federal Buy Clean Initiative is a part of President Biden’s economic plan—including the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Inflation Reduction Act, and CHIPS and Science Act—to usher in a manufacturing boom in America. The Initiative ensures that federal financing and purchasing power are creating good-paying jobs, protecting public health, enhancing American competitiveness, and strengthening national security. Today’s Federal Buy Clean actions build on Buy Clean commitments made earlier this year, including standing up the first ever Federal Buy Clean Task Force, and complements a comeback for American factories since President Biden took office, with 668,000 manufacturing jobs added.

The Federal Government is the largest direct purchaser in the world and a major infrastructure funder. By leveraging the U.S. Government’s purchasing power, President Biden is ensuring that American manufacturing is positioned to compete and lead, while catalyzing markets and accelerating innovation across the country. In addition to the historic funding in the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, his Inflation Reduction Act provides a boost for the Federal Buy Clean Initiative with $4.5 billion in funding for the General Services Administration, Department of Transportation, and Environmental Protection Agency to designate and use construction materials and products that produce substantially lower levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The Inflation Reduction Act also provides the Department of Energy with billions to invest in retrofitting industrial facilities and tax credits for clean technology manufacturing.

The U.S. manufacturing sector produces the materials that are critical to rebuilding and strengthening the nation’s infrastructure but is responsible for nearly a third of U.S. greenhouse emissions from industrial processes. Through the Biden-Harris Administration’s Federal Buy Clean Initiative and Task Force, the Federal Government is for the first time providing a market differentiation and incentives for lower-carbon materials. Companies across the nation will be rewarded for cutting carbon pollution across their entire value chains while supporting good American manufacturing jobs.

The Biden-Harris Administration will:

  • Prioritize the Federal Government’s purchase of steel, concrete, asphalt and flat glass that have lower levels of emissions. The Federal Government will purchase these key construction materials when they have fewer embodied emissions, the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with their manufacturing, transportation, installation, maintenance, and disposal. These four construction materials are some of the most carbon-intensive, accounting for nearly half of all U.S. manufacturing GHG emissions, and representing 98% of the government’s purchased construction materials. The Buy Clean Task Force will provide instructions to agencies for integrating Buy Clean into federal procurement and funding processes. The Biden Administration anticipates prioritizing additional construction materials and pollutants for Buy Clean Federal procurement.
  • Expand lower-carbon construction materials used in federally-funded projects. In addition to federal procurement, Buy Clean will cover federally-funded projects. For example, the Department of Transportation, which is administering more than $120 billion in infrastructure spending in FY22, is announcing the first agency-wide Buy Clean policy and Embodied Carbon Work Group to drive progress. The initiative will jumpstart better data and reporting, better procurement and purchasing policies, and better education and research to ensure the use of sustainable materials across its programs.
  • Convening states to partner on Buy Clean: The Federal Buy Clean Initiative is jumpstarting a new partnership, bringing together state governments alongside federal partners to align state-based Buy Clean policies with federal incentives to expand markets for clean manufacturing and low carbon materials across the nation’s buildings and infrastructure. Next month, the White House will convene States to share knowledge and build capacity for public construction projects that support American workers and lower carbon emissions.
  • Increase data transparency through supplier reporting to help American manufacturers track and reduce emissions. The administration will expand the reliability, transparency and verification of environmental product declarations (EPDs) including GHG emissions reporting for actual supply chain production of these materials. This will be supported by $100 million for program costs and $250 million for grants and technical assistance by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • Launch pilot programs to advance federal procurement of clean construction materials. Federal Buy Clean Initiative pilots have already broken ground across the country—from Denver, Colorado to Salt Lake City, Utah to Champlain, New York to Lukeville, Arizona—in partnership with regional contractors and subcontractors including engineering, architecture and materials firms, with technical support from DOE, EPA and USDA.

What agencies are doing to implement Buy Clean: The Buy Clean Task Force will lead by example and increase its members to eight additional agencies: the Departments of Commerce, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Interior, and State, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and Veterans Administration. These members join the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy and Transportation as well as the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), General Services Administration (GSA), Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy. Together, the expanded Task Force agencies account for 90% of all federally-financed and purchased construction materials. The Buy Clean Task Force will continue to launch pilots, expand the scope of industrial pollutants and materials, engage industry, and establish mechanisms for collection and public disclosure of the data.Building on previous Buy Clean efforts, agencies continue to deliver on the Federal Buy Clean Initiative:

  • The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is supporting innovations in construction materials made from sustainably-harvested and waste bio-materials to integrate into and potentially replace carbon-intensive materials.
  • The Department of Transportation (DOT) has successfully included criteria in several discretionary grant programs to incentivize the use of materials that reduce carbon emissions. In June 2022, the Department’s Chief Sustainability Officer along with the Office of the Senior Procurement Executive also launched a Lower Carbon Procurement Pilot to increase utilization of environmental product declarations (EPDs) and encourage the acquisition of products and materials with low embodied carbon emissions. In April 2022, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issued a Climate Challenge with grant funding to reduce the lifecycle emissions associated with the design, construction, and maintenance of pavements that received 40 submissions from 25 states. FHWA also launched a tool, known as LCA PAVE, that can be used to assess environmental impacts of pavement material and design decisions. The Department’s Embodied Carbon Working Group will support the new efforts to ensure all of USDOT’s modal administrations are prioritizing Buy Clean.
  • The Department of Energy (DOE) is supporting Buy Clean with training, technical assistance, and innovation grants. The Building Technology Office is building tools such as GREET for whole building lifecycle analysis and the Advanced Manufacturing Office is supporting with tools such as LIGHTEnUp and MFI to support standard-setting for specific products.
  • The Department of Defense (DOD) and the military departments are analyzing modernization requirements for process, guidance, criteria, and specifications to accelerate the transition to low-carbon building materials. This includes screening potential projects to implement Buy Clean specifications and coordinating with U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory and Construction Engineering Research Laboratory to analyze the life-cycle carbon footprint, costs, resilience, and timeliness of low-carbon building materials.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is supporting the Federal Buy Clean Initiative by emphasizing the urgency of investing in energy efficiency across manufacturing facilities with access to the ENERGY STAR program for industry’s plant energy performance benchmarking tools, and enabling facility-level industrial carbon emissions via facility benchmarking data in the GHG Reporting Program and EPA’s Center for Corporate Climate Leadership. EPA is also working with external partners to standardize and improve environmental product declaration (EPDs) guidelines.
  • The General Services Administration (GSA) on March 30, 2022, issued their first “Buy Clean” standards for the concrete and asphalt used in all future projects with more than one truckload of material. GSA will require suppliers to provide environmental product declarations and meet low-carbon concrete and environmentally preferable asphalt standards informed by insights from industry. This policy is being used immediately for the Land Port of Entry improvement projects funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and will be accelerated with funding from the Inflation Reduction Act. GSA will also issue a request for information (RFI) 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 Department of State and U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate are aggregating corporate purchasing commitments of near and net-zero materials through the First Movers Coalition. The Department has also launched a Decarbonization Initiative, focused on reducing embodied emissions in overseas construction at embassies and other facilities.
  • The Department of Commerce through the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) is assessing standards for lower-carbon cement and concrete and integrating embodied emissions considerations through EPDs into the widely-used Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability  tool.