Federal landlord phasing out fossil fuel equipment

Source: By Kelsey Brugger, E&E News • Posted: Sunday, November 6, 2022

Robin Carnahan, head of the General Services Administration.

Robin Carnahan, head of the General Services Administration, during her confirmation hearing in June 2021. She appeared remotely via video feed. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

The federal government’s real estate management agency is working on going fossil fuel-free.

The General Services Administration announced Thursday that Inflation Reduction Act funding will not be used to install fossil fuel-based equipment at any of its 1,500 buildings across the country. That includes natural gas boilers, industrial pumps or chillers.

The pledge reflects the Biden administration’s push to infuse climate policies at agencies that are not traditionally considered energy- or climate-related — from the GSA to the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Internal Revenue Service. GSA has committed to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by midcentury.

“This isn’t a pipe dream,” said GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan. “It’s an actual plan, and we have the momentum and the money to make it happen.”

The Inflation Reduction Act allotted $3.4 billion to GSA, which the agency will spend through its Federal Buildings Fund. The program includes support for sustainable building materials and converting federal facilities to high-performance green buildings.

Historically, when GSA has had to replace a broken piece of equipment like a chiller, the agency has gotten a similar chiller. The new approach will promote the use of newer, greener technologies.

“By committing that none of GSA’s IRA dollars will go to locking in new fossil fuel equipment, we break that cycle and create demand for clean energy technologies,” said Jetta Wong, senior GSA adviser on climate.

The agency says it has an $11 billion backlog of equipment that need to be replaced. It plans to announce hundreds of millions of dollars in projects by the end of the year.

“There’s no time to waste,” Carnahan said.