On December 8, President Biden signed Executive Order (EO) on Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs Through Federal Sustainability that expands on the federal sustainability goals of prior administrations—setting aggressive timelines for achieving reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Of most relevance to the construction industry, the EO calls for net-zero emissions from federal procurement, including sustainable purchasing and the development of a “buy clean” policy to promote the use of construction materials with lower embodied carbon* emissions – specifically calling out concrete and steel. The buy clean policy would extend to federally funded projects. It also directs federal agencies to reduce GHG emissions from their supply chains, which includes tracking the disclosure of climate and sustainability data from their major suppliers.
AGC is still evaluating the impacts that this EO could have on federal procurement. Foremost in our consideration are additional stressors on the supply chain from these new requirements and the potential risk for the general contractor in collecting and evaluating environmental data on products.
The EO also calls for zero-emissions in electricity by 2030, vehicle acquisition by 2035, and net-zero from its building portfolio by 2045 along with directives to improve building operations and resilience. It also establishes a federal chief sustainability officer and reiterates the administration’s Justice40 directives.
*The embodied carbon of a building material would include the emissions associated with mining, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, transporting, and installing the material.