The Biden-Harris Administration, through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), announced a proposed rule to electrify and cut emissions from new or newly renovated federal buildings. Beginning in 2025, these facilities will be required to reduce their on-site emissions associated with the energy consumption of the building by 90% relative to 2003 levels. In 2030, the standard will fully decarbonize the on-site emissions in new federal buildings and major renovations. These measures will help advance the adoption of cleaner technologies for buildings that are necessary to achieving President Biden’s goal of net-zero emissions in all federal buildings by 2045. 

“Ridding pollution from our buildings and adopting clean electricity are some of the most cost-effective and future-oriented solutions we have to combat climate change,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “For the first time ever, DOE is establishing a firm timetable to reduce the government’s carbon footprint in new and existing federal facilities — ensuring the Biden-Harris Administration is leading by example in the effort to reach the nation’s ambitious climate goals.”  

Buildings are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., and fossil fuels used in federal buildings account for over 25% of all federal emissions. If enacted within the proposed timeframe, DOE estimates the new emission reductions requirements would save taxpayers $8 million annually in upfront equipment costs. Over the next 30 years, the new rule would reduce carbon emissions from federal buildings by 1.86 million metric tons and methane emissions by 22.8 thousand tons — an amount roughly equivalent to the emissions generated by nearly 300,000 homes in one year.

The new rule aims to accelerate the electrification of the federal building stock by phasing out on-site fossil-fuel usage for end uses, such as heating and water heating. The rule will not penalize agencies for using fossil fuels to conduct mission-critical activities, such as national security. In addition, DOE has established a petition process that will address concerns relating to technical feasibility for specific applications within a given building and climate zone.   

In the coming weeks, DOE will solicit comment on the new rule from all entities that may be affected. To learn more about the Appliance and Equipment Standards Program and DOE’s efforts to implement minimum energy conservation standards that reduce waste and provide Americans utility bill and cost savings, please click here. To learn more about the federal building performance standard (BPS), please click here.