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US sets new emission standards for federal buildings by 2030

US sets new emission standards for federal buildings by 2030

The US Department of Energy announces final standards to eliminate onsite fossil fuel usage in federal buildings by 2030.

Washington, D.C. — In April 2024, the Biden administration announced final standards to eliminate onsite fossil fuel usage in new federal buildings by the end of the decade, according to a statement from the Department of Energy.

New emission standards

The newly finalized rule mandates a 90-percent reduction in emissions from new federal construction projects between fiscal year 2025 and 2029, with a complete phase-out of onsite emissions for all new projects and major renovations starting in 2030. This initiative, which fulfills a long-standing mandate from the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, is expected to significantly reduce carbon and methane emissions, projecting savings of $8 million in taxpayer funds over the next 30 years.

Implementation & exemptions from new emission standards

This rule addresses major renovations, defined as projects costing $3.8 million or more, though limited exemptions can be granted for specific issues such as supply-chain constraints or physical building limitations.

Challenges and opportunities in meeting the 2030 emission standards

In 2022, the Biden administration established a federal standard mandating that at least 30 percent of federal buildings should cut direct greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Initiatives to improve energy efficiency in federal buildings have already started, including the recent installation of rooftop solar panels at the Pentagon, funded by the initial $250 million in awards aimed at improving the energy performance of federal buildings.

Background on the new emission standards

Despite the potential of these new regulations, the journey has been complex and challenging. Section 433 of EISA, which called for phasing out fossil fuel-generated energy in federal buildings by 2030, faced significant delays and opposition, particularly from the natural gas industry. This delay resulted in federal buildings installing gas-fired appliances well past the deadlines.

Implementing these new regulations will be crucial as the Biden administration works towards its goal of cutting the US’s greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030. 

New emission standards — next steps from the Department of Energy

The Department of Energy is reviewing public comments on the proposed regulations, and no specific timeline for their finalization has yet been set. The progress made so far marks a significant step towards decarbonizing federal buildings and, by extension, the nation.


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