Buying Clean Is A Bet on America We Can’t Lose

We Can't Cut What We Can't Count: How EPDs Help Track Emissions from Construction Materials

The Biden Administration has made a concerted effort to cut the embodied carbon emissions associated with the production of common industrial materials like concrete and steel. As a major purchaser of these materials, the federal government can drive greater demand for low-carbon materials and help US manufacturers stay competitive as the global market for sustainable products continues to grow.

Congress could soon deliver a game-changing set of policy tools to help make these procurement goals a reality. To learn more about how the government can “Buy Clean” and how that bolsters US climate and economic goals, check out Third Way’s new video, Explained: How a federal Buy Clean commitment helps advance US climate goals.

Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Joe Manchin reached an agreement on legislation that would provide critical support for these activities. The Inflation Reduction Act includes over $5 billion in funding that a number of federal agencies, including the General Services Administration (GSA), the Federal Highways Administration (FHWA), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), can use to purchase low-carbon materials for the construction of federal buildings, roads, bridges, and homes. In response to these new incentives, manufacturers will reduce their emissions in order to compete for federal dollars.

The bill also contains crucial funding to make sure manufacturers of all sizes have the resources they need to calculate and disclose the embodied carbon of their products, allowing them to bid on these public works projects. Procurement officials will incorporate these disclosures, known as environmental product declarations (EPDs) in their decision-making processes, evaluating project proposals on climate impact as well as on cost. For more information on EPDs and their role in clean procurement, see our previously published video, We Can’t Cut What We Can’t Count: How EPDs Help Track Emissions from Construction Materials.

If Congress can get the Inflation Reduction Act over the finish line, US manufacturers will have more tools to produce clean materials, a major customer to buy them, and a leg up on global competitors.