Courtesy of Jack Tade |
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DOE Pushes Federal Buildings Toward Zero Emissions with New Rule

May 7, 2024
The U.S. Department of Energy finalizes standards that decrease carbon emissions for new and renovated federal buildings.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced its fulfillment of Congress’s directive to lower emissions in new or renovated federal buildings with the implementation of the Clean Energy for New Federal Buildings and Major Renovations of Federal Buildings Rule. By adhering to the provisions outlined in the Rule, federal buildings will actively mitigate pollution, enhance air quality, foster job creation, and capitalize on cost efficiencies derived from the utilization of energy-efficient infrastructure. These initiatives represent significant strides towards promoting the adoption of cleaner, more sustainable technologies in building practices, aligning with the government's ambitious Federal Sustainability Plan objective of achieving net-zero emissions from all federal buildings by 2045.

White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory commented: 

“President Biden has charged the Federal Government to lead by example by transforming its footprint of over 300,000 buildings to be more energy efficient and climate resilient, which means cleaner air and safer communities across the country. Today’s action will help our Federal Government achieve President Biden’s ambitious Federal sustainability goals while creating good-paying jobs, saving taxpayers money, and building healthier, more resilient communities.”

Targeting Zero Emissions by 2023

The finalized standard, which implements the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, requires federal agencies to phase out fossil fuel usage in new federal building construction or major renovation by achieving a 90% reduction in fossil fuel use for new projects started between fiscal years 2025 and 2029 and completely eliminating on-site fossil fuel usage in new projects beginning in 2030. 

DOE estimates that over the next 30 years, the new rule will reduce carbon emissions from federal buildings by 2 million metric tons and methane emissions by 16 thousand tons—an amount roughly equivalent to the emissions generated by nearly 310,000 homes in one year, while also reducing infrastructure costs.

The final rule, in conjunction with Executive Order 14057 and other Federal Sustainability Plan actions, including Federal Building Performance Standard, strengthens progress to achieve net-zero emissions in federal buildings by 2045 by eliminating on-site fossil fuel emissions, also known as Scope 1 emissions. DOE’s Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) will issue supplemental guidance that provides agencies with pathways for compliance. DOE FEMP will support agencies as they work to meet these targets by providing resources, opportunities for grant funding, training and technical assistance. 

The new rule aims to accelerate clean energy deployment within the federal building stock by phasing out on-site fossil-fuel usage for end-uses such as heating and water heating.

For more information, visit the Clean Energy Rule webpage.

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