The Federal Government is the largest purchaser in the world, with annual purchasing power of over $630 billion. To harness that procurement power while making historic investments in the nation's infrastructure, President's Biden charged his Administration through his December 2021 Federal Sustainability Plan and Executive Order 14057 to launch a Buy Clean Task Force and initiative to promote use of low-carbon, made in America construction materials. Through Buy Clean, the Federal Government is for the first time prioritizing the use of American-made, lower-carbon construction materials in Federal procurement and Federally-funded projects. This is advancing America's industrial capacity to supply the goods and materials of the future while growing good jobs for American workers.
Established under Executive Order (E.O.) 14057 on Federal Sustainability, the Buy Clean Task Force is co-chaired by the Federal Chief Sustainability Officer and the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy. The Task Force includes representatives from the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Energy, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Interior, State and Transportation; the Environmental Protection Agency; the General Services Administration; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; the Veterans Administration; the White House Domestic Climate Policy Office, Council on Environmental Quality, Infrastructure Implementation Team, Office on Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation, and Office of Management and Budget. Together, the Task Force agencies account for 90% of all federally-financed and purchased construction materials.
The Buy Clean Task Force is charged with developing recommendations on policies and procedures to expand consideration of embodied emissions in Federal procurement and federally funded projects, which includes:
In March 2023, the Biden-Harris Administration announced the launch of the Federal-State Buy Clean Partnership with 12 leading states—California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Washington—and later welcomed Minnesota into the partnership. These states have committed to prioritize efforts that support the procurement of lower-carbon infrastructure materials in state-funded projects, and to collaborate with the Federal government and one another to send a harmonized demand signal to the marketplace. Alongside this announcement, the U.S. Climate Alliance announced the availability of policy, technical, and analytical assistance to help participating members advance their state-level Buy Clean efforts.
|December 12, 2023
|The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) announced IRA Low Embodied Carbon material requirements that will be applied to 150 Federal Inflation Reduction Act projects involving $2B in IRA low-carbon materials. A GSA blog shared lessons learned, market research, and engagement with manufacturers and trade associations related to a six-month pilot of eleven projects.
|December 11, 2023
|The Governments of the United States and Canada released a Joint Statement on Renewed United States-Canada Commitment on Climate and Nature Ambition at the end of the UN Climate Change Conference, COP28. The statement includes a commitment to "advance a 'Buy Clean' ambition to leverage national government procurement to promote the use of low-carbon construction materials and design."
|December 5, 2023
|The Industrial Deep Decarbonisation Initiative (IDDI) issued a communique during COP28 highlighting progress on IDDI's Green Public Procurement Pledge. The U.S. joined Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom in committing to helping drive the global decarbonization of heavy industries through public procurement. Austria, Japan, and the United Arab Emirates also announced their endorsement of the GPP Statement of Intent. Read the announcement.
|November 29, 2023
|The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) published a memorandum titled "Advancing Climate Resilience through Climate-Smart Infrastructure Investments and Implementation Guidance for the Disaster Resiliency Planning Act" to provide guidance to Federal agencies on addressing the risks that natural hazards and climate change pose to the Federal government's facilities. The M-Memo encourages Federal agencies to use low embodied carbon materials aligned with the Federal Buy Clean Initiative.
|November 6, 2023
|GSA announced $2 billion in IRA funding for over 150 federal building projects eligible for low-embodied carbon (LEC) materials in support of the Federal Buy Clean Initiative. The funding will support Federal construction and modernization projects across 39 states, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and will catalyze the market for American-made substantially lower carbon asphalt, concrete, glass and steel. GSA released the full list and map of more than 150 projects and a fact sheet on the plan. GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan and Senior Advisor to the President for Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation John Podesta made the announcement during a visit to the Frank Carlson Federal Building and Courthouse in Topeka, Kansas, as part of the Investing in Rural America Event Series. Read the announcement and watch GSA's video.
|September 28, 2023
|EPA announced the availability of $100 million in IRA-funded grants to help businesses develop robust Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) which disclose environmental impacts across the life of a product. Read the announcement.
|September 22, 2023
|DOT's Federal Highway Administration released a fact sheet outlining the scope of the forthcoming $2 billion IRA-funded Low-Carbon Transportation Materials Grants Program.
|September 20, 2023
|GSA awarded the first IRA-funded procurement for substantially lower embodied carbon materials, and the first prioritization of embodied carbon for flat glass.
|August 17, 2023
|GSA and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a nearly $288-million investment of IRA funds to make DHS’s new headquarters a model for sustainability at the St. Elizabeths campus in Washington, DC. The project will prioritize the procurement of low-embodied carbon concrete, steel, and asphalt for new construction. Read the announcement.
|August 15, 2023
|GSA announced an $11 million investment of IRA funds to repair, modernize, and enhance the sustainability of the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House in New York City with the procurement of American-made, substantially lower embodied carbon concrete, steel, and asphalt. Read the announcement.
|July 24, 2023
|DOE announced $100 million for Carbon Utilization Procurement (UP) Grants to support states, local governments, and public utilities in purchasing products—such as building products—derived from converted carbon emissions.
|July 22, 2023
|The Industrial Deep Decarbonisation Initiative (IDDI) issued a communique during the 14th Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM14) in Goa, India, highlighting U.S. ambition on green public procurement alongside the governments of Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
|June 15, 2023
|DOE announced $135 million to reduce emissions across America's industrial sector including 10 projects to decarbonize iron and steel, 5 projects decarbonizing cement and concrete, and 7 additional cross-cutting decarbonization technologies such as industrial heat pump technologies.
|June 9, 2023
|GSA announced the expansion of its Green Proving Ground program which evaluates emerging and sustainable technologies in real-world settings in Federal facilities to now include low-embodied carbon materials. Read the announcement.
|May 16, 2023
|GSA announced its pilot of IRA Buy Clean specifications for procurement of $2.15 billion of substantially lower embodied carbon construction materials for Federal projects. The six-month pilot will apply GSA's Interim IRA Low Embodied Carbon Material Requirements into procurement for 11 GSA construction and modernization projects. GSA's interim requirements are based on EPA's Interim Determination and set global warming potential (GWP) limits for IRA-funded asphalt, concrete, glass, and steel. Read the announcement and what stakeholders are saying.
|May 11, 2023
|HUD announced the Inflation Reduction Act's Green and Resilient Retrofit Program for multifamily properties serving low-income residents will include funding to purchase low embodied carbon materials as part of green retrofits. Read the announcement.
|March 28, 2023
|FEMA announced that based on expanded IRA authority they will make grant funds available to communities for low-carbon materials used in disaster recovery and climate resilience projects. Read the announcement.
|March 8, 2023
|DOE announced $6 billion in funding to accelerate decarbonization projects in energy-intensive industries and provide American manufacturers a competitive advantage in the emerging global clean energy economy. Read the announcement.
|March 3, 2023
|The White House and DOE convened industrial executives and national labor leaders at the White House for a roundtable discussion on how to grow American competitiveness, expand manufacturing jobs, and decarbonize the industrial sector. The executives in the meeting represented over 125,000 jobs and nearly 30% of emissions in the industrial sector.
|January 19, 2023
|EPA announced the first opportunities for public input on new grant and technical assistance programs focused on lower carbon construction materials made possible by a $350 million investment from President Biden's Inflation Reduction Act. Read the announcement.
|January 19, 2023
|EPA published an interim determination under Inflation Reduction Act Sections 60503 and 60506 that was provided in December 2022 to the Department of Transportation and the General Services Administration on their Inflation Reduction Act funded procurement of construction materials and products with substantially lower embodied greenhouse gas emissions. Read the determination.
|December 7, 2022
|GSA awarded a contract for low-embodied carbon concrete at Otay Mesa Land Port of Entry, which is the first land port of entry project to use GSA's new low-embodied-carbon concrete standard. Read the announcement.
|October 20, 2022
|DOT announced that 25 states will receive the first Federal Highway Administration Climate Challenge grants to support sustainable pavements. Read the announcement.
|October 20, 2022
|Biden-Harris Administration announced a new set of public and private sector Buy Clean commitments. Leaders from 20 states joined a White House convening to share knowledge and discuss opportunities for collaboration and alignment between State Buy Clean efforts and the Federal Buy Clean Initiative. Read the announcement.
|October 4, 2022
|GSA issued a Request for Information to learn more about the availability of domestically manufactured, locally sourced low-carbon construction materials. Read this announcement.
|September 23, 2022
|DOE announced that the United States is joining the international coalition Industrial Deep Decarbonization Initiative (IDDI). Read the announcement.
|September 15, 2022
|GSA Administrator Highlighted Progress on Low-Carbon Construction Materials Procurement. Read the press release.
|September 15, 2022
|Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan, and National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi announced the Federal Government will prioritize the purchase of steel, concrete, asphalt and flat glass products produced in America with lower levels of embodied greenhouse gas emissions emissions while visiting a steel plant in Toledo, Ohio. Read this announcement.
|September 15, 2023
|DOT released its first agency-wide Buy Clean policy and launched a Embodied Carbon Work Group to drive better data and reporting, better procurement and purchasing policies, and better education and research to ensure the use of sustainable materials across its programs. Read this announcement.
|September 15, 2022
|Department of State announced that it launched a Decarbonization Initiative focused on reducing embodied emissions in overseas construction at embassies and other facilities. Read this announcement.
|September 7, 2022
|DOE released its "Industrial Decarbonization Roadmap"—a comprehensive report identifying four key pathways to reduce industrial emissions in American manufacturing. This will support the supply of U.S.-made, lower-carbon materials for procurement through Buy Clean. Read this announcement.
|August 16, 2022
|President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act which provides $4.5 billion to EPA, GSA, and DOT to identify and procure climate-friendly construction materials that will be used in Bipartisan Infrastructure Act and other Federally-funded construction projects. Learn more about the Inflation Reduction Act.
|June 14, 2022
|The Department of Commerce announced its National Institute of 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 (BEES) tool.
|March 30, 2022
|GSA issued its 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. Learn more about the GSA concrete and asphalt standards.
|February 15, 2022
|DOT announced a new pilot program will target key products and services to increase use of Environmental Product Declarations and incentivize acquisition of low-carbon materials. Additionally, DOT announced it is standing up a Department-wide Embodied Carbon Working Group to assess and implement actions to reduce lifecycle emissions of construction materials used in transportation infrastructure. Read the DOT announcement.
|February 15, 2022
|GSA released two requests for information (RFIs) to gather marketplace insights from industry on the national availability of concrete and asphalt materials with environmental product declarations, low embodied carbon or superior environmental attributes. Learn more about the RFIs.
|December 8, 2021
|President Biden signed Executive Order 14057 and issued his Federal Sustainability Plan, which directs the Federal Government to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. As part of this announcement, the President charged his Administration to launch a Buy Clean Task Force and initiative to promote use of low-carbon, made in America construction materials. Learn more about this executive action and Federal Sustainability Plan.
|November 15, 2021
|President Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which makes the single largest investment in repairing and reconstructing the nation's bridges since the construction of the interstate highway system. It will rebuild the most economically significant bridges in the country as well as thousands of smaller bridges. The legislation also invests billions in port and airport infrastructure. Learn more about the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
Embodied emissions refer to the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the extraction, production, transport, and manufacturing of material. Low embodied carbon materials have less climate impact associated with mining, manufacturing and transportation. Traditionally, steel, concrete, asphalt, and flat glass contain a high quantity of embodied emissions due to the energy-intensive processes used to extract raw materials like limestone, taconite ore, and silica and then converting those raw materials via industrial processes to produce an end product.
Buy Clean is a procurement policy to promote the purchase of construction materials and products with lower embodied greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, taking into account the life-cycle emissions associated with the production of those materials.
Today, the U.S. manufacturing sector is responsible for nearly a third of U.S. GHG emissions, with the production of steel, concrete, asphalt, and flat glass accounting for nearly half of all U.S. manufacturing GHG emissions. By leveraging the Federal Government's massive purchasing power to support the purchase of American-made steel, concrete, asphalt, and flat glass products with lower embodied emissions, the Federal Government can provide a large and stable demand signal to the marketplace. Buy Clean is advancing the country's industrial capacity to supply the goods and materials of the future while growing good jobs for American workers and significantly reducing the country's greenhouse gas emissions.
Based on a recognition of industry best practice, the Federal Buy Clean Initiative is using product-specific type III Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) as the primary data source for implementation. EPDs take into account a life cycle analysis of multiple environmental impacts, including GHGs at all stages of production. EPDs are similar to nutrition labels on a food product but focus on a materials' environmental and sustainable attributes. The Buy Clean Task Force will continue to identify and pursue opportunities to improve EPDs to ensure they are suitable, consistent and comparable for integration into Federal procurement policies. This information can be supplemented by facility-level energy efficiency benchmarking data such as ENERGY STAR Energy Performance Indicators for industrial plants.
The Federal Government has made great progress in considering the overall climate impacts of new and upgraded construction projects, including applying integrative design principles, whole project life cycle assessment, and sustainable pavements tools. Agencies have also begun to investigate using innovative materials, such as structural mass timber and wood products, that can drastically lower the overall carbon footprint of a building. Buy Clean complements these efforts by ensuring that when designing clean, energy-efficient, net zero infrastructure we are not forgetting the "embodied emissions" in the construction materials that can be equal to the emissions generated over decades of operating the building.