Design and Construction, Green Building, Sustainability/Business Continuity

New Final Rule Puts Federal Buildings on Path to Net Zero

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it has delivered on Congress’ mandate to cut emissions from new or newly renovated federal buildings through the Clean Energy for New Federal Buildings and Major Renovations of Federal Buildings Rule.

By meeting the requirements of the rule, federal buildings will reduce pollution, improve air quality, create good-paying jobs, and take advantage of cost savings from using more energy-efficient equipment, according to the DOE. These measures will help advance the adoption of cleaner, more efficient technologies for buildings that will lead the way to achieving President Joe Biden’s Federal Sustainability Plan goal of net-zero emissions from all federal buildings by 2045.  

“The Biden-Harris administration is practicing what we preach. Just as we are helping households and businesses across the nation save money by saving energy, we are doing the same in our own federal buildings,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. 

White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory added, “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.”

This rule, 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.  

The 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 the 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. The DOE’s Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) will issue supplemental guidance that provides agencies with pathways for compliance.

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