John Podesta, senior adviser to the president on clean energy innovation and implementation, alongside Robin Carnahan, administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration, unveil a new $2 billion investment in construction projects to combat the climate crisis. (Rachel Mipro/Kansas Reflector)
TOPEKA — Standing outside the Frank Carlson Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse on Monday, two members of the Biden administration announced a $2 billion investment for making federal buildings more eco-friendly in the latest federal attempt to combat the climate crisis.
John Podesta, senior adviser to the president on clean energy innovation and implementation, and Robin Carnahan, administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration, said the change would help meet federal government goals of reaching net zero emissions on federal buildings by 2045 and net zero emissions in the U.S. by 2050.
“It’s all about stacking things on top of each other,” Carnahan said. “There’s not some one silver bullet to solve our problems. But by aggregating all of these things, we can make real progress.”
The money, which comes from the Inflation Reduction Act, is meant to create American jobs with an emphasis on long-term green energy sustainability. The investment will be used on 150 federal building projects in 39 states, along with the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The investment is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Investing in America agenda.
Projects will use construction materials that have lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions, known as ”low carbon” asphalt, concrete, glass and steel to renovate the buildings. The investments are estimated to reduce up to 41,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions and support approximately 6,000 jobs through the projects.
“Politicians talk about infrastructure all the time,” Carnahan said. “That’s just a normal thing, but they don’t always put the money where the mouth is. And that’s what’s so different about this administration. There is momentum and money and time to make these investments that matter for our country. And they’re gonna matter for American jobs, and they’re gonna matter for how the climate crisis is dealt with.”
The GSA has set aside about $25 million for renovations to the Frank Carlson Federal Building on Topeka. Among other changes, the windows and doors will be replaced with insulated low-carbon glass, and the sidewalks and parking area will be renovated with low-carbon concrete.
The Robert J. Dole Courthouse in Kansas City, Kansas, will have low carbon glass and steel installed on the building facade, an $11 million investment.
“You can get the carbon out of these industrial processes to produce materials in a cleaner way, and that’s what we’re going to need to do if we want to stabilize the atmosphere by the middle of the century,” Podesta said.
“That’s why I’m so excited about concrete,” Carnahan added.
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