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U.S. Department of Energy. © Timothy Epple

U.S. Department of Energy Announces Final Rule to Propel Federal Buildings Toward Zero Emissions

As required by Congress, DOE finalizes standards that decrease emissions for new and renovated federal buildings across the nation, slashing harmful carbon emissions by 2 million metric tons

Published on April 29, 2024

The U.S. Department of Energy announced that it has delivered on Congress’s 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. These measures will help advance the adoption of cleaner, more efficient technologies for buildings that will lead the way to achieving President 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.

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

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.

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 final rule represents the result of a robust engagement process in which DOE interacted with a wide spectrum of federal stakeholders, whose feedback was instrumental to informing the final standard. 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.

Staff Writer