US Government to Prioritize American-Made, Lower-Carbon Construction Materials

The U.S. government will prioritize the use of American-made, lower-carbon construction materials for federally funded projects, including curtainwalls and flat glass, the General Services Administration (GSA) announced.

The GSA issued a request for information this past week to learn more about the availability of domestically manufactured, locally sourced low-carbon construction materials.

“Using domestic, lower-carbon construction materials is a triple win – creating good-paying American jobs, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and ensuring a healthy planet for the next generation,” GSA administrator Robin Carnahan said in a statement. “We are eager to hear from the experts and share our findings with our agency partners as we work across government to tackle the climate crisis.”

The request for information follows an announcement in September from the Federal Buy Clean Initiative stating that the government will choose less-polluting options for the most carbon-intensive construction materials.

The Buy Clean Task Force, which was created in early 2022 to promote the use of construction materials with lower lifecycle emissions, is prioritizing low-carbon selections for the most carbon-intensive materials for construction and building projects, which account for 98% of what the federal government spends on construction materials.

Among those materials are concrete, including prefabricated products, as well as steel, including structural and rebar, and flat glass, including window assemblies, according to the request.

Additional materials included on the GSA’s list are asphalt, gypsum board, structural engineered wood and aluminum — including curtainwalls and storefronts.

The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act provides a boost to these efforts with $3.375 billion that will allow GSA to invest in federal buildings with lower-carbon materials and sustainable technologies and leverage emerging clean technologies that help achieve greater carbon reductions and accelerate American innovation. These investments help boost the competitiveness of American manufacturers developing sustainable materials and technologies.

“The GSA encourages industry partners to provide input on the current availability of these materials with substantially lower levels of embodied carbon as compared to industry averages, or other estimates of similar materials,” the GSA said in a statement.

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