- The White House announced Tuesday it will establish a "Buy Clean" task force to focus on the production and purchase of low-carbon materials made in the U.S. for use in federal construction projects. The move comes after a December executive order meant to make the federal government more sustainable.
- The task force will identify materials to consider and prioritize in federally funded projects, increase emission transparency through supplier reporting and incentives and launch pilot programs to boost federal procurement of clean construction materials. These include products with lower embodied emissions and pollutants across their lifecycle, including each stage of the manufacturing process, according to the release.
- The administration claims that the new policies will create more jobs and boost the country's competitiveness in the global market, according to the release.
The Associated General Contractors of America reacted to the announcement with caution.
"Although some states have set up limited Buy Clean programs, these types of programs are new and their impacts on material supply chains have not been fully tested," Brian Turmail, vice president of public affairs and strategic initiatives at AGC, told Construction Dive in an email. "We hope that the Biden administration works with industry to find a viable path forward on Buy Clean that doesn't inhibit the ability to move forward on needed infrastructure projects."
Representatives from the U.S. Green Building Council applauded the task force. Elizabeth Beardsley, senior policy counsel for the organization, said it would lead to innovation and investment in the private sector.
Ben Evans, federal legislative director for the USGBC, was optimistic about the power the task force could exert on the economy.
"I think the federal government really has the opportunity to reshape the market for these materials," said Evans.
Additionally, the administration is working to bolster production of energy and materials within the U.S. and reward consumers and corporations for innovation for making those products, such as through lowering tariffs with the European Union, according to the release.
The General Services Administration has already been implementing some of the work that goes into the task force, according to the release, with Requests for Information (RFIs) also announced on Feb. 15. The GSA is conducting these RFIs in order to get insight on the availability of concrete and asphalt materials that meet certain environmental standards.
In coming weeks, the GSA will use the RFI responses to shape the launch of national low-carbon concrete and sustainable asphalt standards for Land Port of Entry projects funded by the recently passed infrastructure act, according to the White House.