STATEMENT: Biden administration announces first-ever national building performance standard

Media Contacts
Johanna Neumann

Senior Director, Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy, Environment America

WASHINGTON — The Biden Administration unveiled a new policy on Wednesday designed to improve energy efficiency in — and pollution from — government buildings as part of the president’s larger climate agenda and federal sustainability plan.The building performance standard is designed to reduce carbon emissions in federal buildings by using less energy and switching from fossil fuels to electric alternatives.

Buildings are responsible for more than a third of total energy-related emissions in the United States. To reach its goal of reducing emissions by 50%-52% from 2005 levels, by 2030, the United States has to address emissions from buildings. The building performance standard for federal buildings announced today is designed to lead to 0% scope 1 emissions in 30% of federal buildings by 2030. Scope 1 emissions refer to global warming pollution created as a direct result of activities that occur in the building, such as heating, cooling and cooking. 

The building performance standard should spur federal buildings to weatherize and replace outdated and inefficient fossil-fuel powered appliances with more efficient electric appliances that can be powered with solar, wind or other renewable energy sources. Administration officials pointed to tax credits and rebates for technologies like heat pump space heaters and heat pump water heaters in the Inflation Reduction Act as key drivers in making this move possible. 

The federal government is one of the largest owners of buildings in the country. The General Services Administration (GSA), the government agency which centrally handles procurement, owns and leases more than 371 million square feet of space in 8,600 buildings in more than 2,200 communities.

The new federal policy builds on actions taken in recent years by a number of states and localities. Environment America’s guide for cities and towns “Ten Ways Your Community Can Go All-Electric” lists building performance standards as one of the recommendations communities can take to reduce energy waste and reduce pollution. 

Johanna Neumann, Environment America Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy Senior Director released the following statement:

“A building performance standard for the thousands of federally owned buildings puts a hefty finger on the scale for efficient all-electric building,” said Neumann. With goals and incentives in place, the federal government is now committing to action in its brick-and-mortar operations. Today’s commitment will reduce energy costs and spur a nationwide switch to buildings that waste less and pollute less. When courthouses in Iowa and federal buildings in Florida stop heating and cooling with fossil fuels such as gas, coal or propane, it paves the way for others in their community to follow.”