Biden team cracks down on federal building emissions

By Robin Bravender | 06/20/2023 01:25 PM EDT

The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center

The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington on June 20. Robin Bravender/E&E News

The Biden administration plans to use funding from the massive climate law enacted last year to slash emissions from more than 100 federal buildings, officials announced Tuesday.

The General Services Administration, the agency that acts as the government’s landlord, plans to use $975 million in funding from the Inflation Reduction Act to make 28 buildings net-zero emitters, GSA announced. Another 100 federal buildings will become all-electric, adding to about 200 other federal buildings that are already fully electric.

The announcement comes as part of the Biden administration’s plan to cut federal buildings’ emissions to net zero by 2045. President Joe Biden signed an executive order in 2021 laying out timelines for the federal government to slash its greenhouse gas emissions.

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“President Biden set a high bar for Federal sustainability, and today’s announcement brings us one step closer toward meeting our net zero-emissions goal,” Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory said in a statement. “Electrifying federal buildings means cleaner air, good-paying jobs, and more resilient communities.”

The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, a hulking building in downtown Washington, will become all-electric using the new funding, GSA announced. The building, completed in 1997, is one of the largest government buildings in the country, according to GSA, featuring 3.1 million square feet of office space spread over 11 acres. Some staff members from EPA — whose headquarters is next door — are among the federal employees who work at the site.

The Biden administration’s plans for the Reagan Building include installing heat pumps as the primary heating source, eliminating on-site combustion emissions and using steam for heat.

The Biden team said it plans to leverage the $975 million in Inflation Reduction Act funds to deploy a total of $1.9 billion in private and public funding. That investment will avoid 2.3 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, save enough energy to power more than 300,000 American homes and support 5,000 jobs per year, according to GSA.

Top Biden administration officials are set to make their formal announcement at the Reagan Building Tuesday afternoon. The guest list includes Mallory, GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan and others.