Equilibrium & Sustainability

Federal government to prioritize US-made, lower-carbon construction materials

The General Services Administration is seen in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, April 20, 2022.
Greg Nash
The General Services Administration is seen in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, April 20, 2022.

The U.S. government will for the first time prioritize the use of American-made, lower-carbon construction materials in federal procurement and federally funded projects, the General Services Administration (GSA) announced on Tuesday.

To realize this goal, the GSA has issued a request for information about the availability of domestically manufactured, locally sourced “low-embodied-carbon” materials — or those that generate fewer carbon emissions during the process of constructing a building.

The move is part of the Biden administration’s Federal Buy Clean Initiative, which aims to stimulate markets for low-carbon products made in the U.S., according to the GSA.

“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,” Carnahan added.

The request for information follows an announcement from the Federal Buy Clean Initiative last month indicating that the government would be selecting less-polluting options for the most carbon-intensive construction materials, according to a White House fact sheet.

Such materials include concrete, steel, glass and asphalt and account for 98 percent of what the federal government spends on construction, the fact sheet stated.

The GSA’s request on Tuesday is targeting industry partners and small businesses with expertise on a variety of low-embodied-carbon 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.

Other materials on the GSA’s list are asphalt, gypsum board, structural engineered wood and aluminum — including curtain walls and storefronts.

The GSA is also interested in low-embodied-carbon materials used for insulation and roofing, per the request.

“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 administration said in a statement.

Companies can submit their ideas via an online form or by emailing embodiedcarbon@gsa.gov through Nov. 3.

Tags Climate change GSA Robin Carnahan
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