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US invests $2 billion for lower-carbon construction at federal buildings

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The Biden administration on Monday said it will invest $2 billion in 150 federal building projects across 39 states that use materials that minimize carbon emissions, its latest effort to tackle climate change through government purchasing power.

The General Services Administration will prioritize the purchase of asphalt, concrete, glass and steel produced and disposed of with lower levels of associated greenhouse gas emissions that meet a standard for environmental products.    

“The U.S. government has a huge share of the market -particularly of concrete and asphalt-  and that I think helps drive the industry towards meeting an ever increasing level of innovation when it comes to decarbonizing,” John Podesta, senior adviser to President Joe Biden, told Reuters. 

Podesta oversees the implementation of the administration’s Inflation Reduction Act, which provides over $3 billion to the GSA to invest in buildings to reduce carbon emissions. He said the investments will help to tackle emissions from sectors that are among the hardest to decarbonize.

Podesta and GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan announced the investments during a visit to Topeka, Kansas, where a federal building and courthouse will receive $25 million of the $2 billion in planned investments to retrofit the facility to make it more energy efficient.

Asphalt, concrete, glass and steel are among the most carbon-intensive construction materials. They account for nearly half of all U.S. manufacturing greenhouse gas emissions, according to the GSA.

The administration has a goal to have a net-zero emissions federal building portfolio by 2045 and net-zero emissions in government procurement by 2050.

“This funding helps create a market for low- and zero-carbon materials, further incentivizing industrial manufacturers to take advantage of other IRA programs aimed at helping them reduce their emissions,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.

Other buildings selected are located in Boston, Massachusetts; Cleveland, Ohio; Salt Lake City, Utah and San Francisco, California. 

 (Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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