The United States government is going on a $2 billion building spree with a focus on cleaner materials.
Construction/manufacturing is the third-highest global air-polluting sector at just under 7 billion tons, according to a 2019 Independent Advisor report.
“The U.S. government has a huge share of the market — particularly of concrete and asphalt — and that I think helps drive the industry toward meeting an ever-increasing level of innovation when it comes to decarbonizing,” Biden’s senior adviser John Podesta said in the Reuters story.
Biden has an aggressive plan to stave off planet overheating. Highlights from a White House fact sheet include reducing air pollution up to 52% “below 2005 levels in 2030”; achieving 100% “carbon pollution-free” electricity by 2035; and having a “net-zero emissions economy by 2050.”
In the U.S., asphalt, concrete, glass, and steel are a dirty quadruplet, creating about half of the country’s manufacturing sector’s air pollution, according to the General Services Administration.
The building investment will be used to buy hundreds of millions of dollars of each of those materials (made and disposed of with cleaner methods) to be used in projects spread across the country, with clusters in the Northeast and southern Texas, per a map from the GSA.
Better construction is a research topic in labs around the world. Some concepts include fungi that could one day replace concrete and foundations that could also serve as supercapacitors, powering the structures they support.
Even design concepts borrowed from termites could promote cooling sans the need for power-hungry air conditioners.
For now, the Biden administration plans to have “net-zero emissions” from federal structures by 2045, using better-sourced materials with billions to spend on them, per Reuters.
“This funding helps create a market for low- and zero-carbon materials, further incentivizing industrial manufacturers to take advantage of other IRA programs aimed at helping them reduce their emissions,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in the Reuters story.
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