Climate and infrastructure policy linked

During the 2020 Biden campaign, climate change was a priority issue. Consistent with that messaging, the administration is now plowing forward with urgent and sweeping climate mitigation policy proposals that will significantly impact the power, transportation, building, waste, and industrial sectors. Navigating the policy and regulatory implications for business models takes time, but the risks of not paying attention now, along with the strategic opportunities for early movers, are immense. Two proposals in particular, the CLEAN Future Act and the LIFT America Act, warrant close consideration by all professionals and stakeholders in the design and construction industries.

The CLEAN Future Act sets aggressive targets (in 14 years) for 100% clean electricity generation, which creates a necessary domino effect for a modernized grid to optimize distributed energy resources, energy storage, and microgrids. This Act also sets new energy efficiency targets and standards for buildings, including a benchmarking program to track, and reduce, commercial and multifamily energy and water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. On the transportation side, the Act proposes massive investments at the federal and state levels into electric vehicle infrastructure, including supporting the development of model building codes for integration. Decarbonizing and electrifying port infrastructure is a priority as well, to the tune of $2 billion annually.

On the industrial side, a “Buy Clean Program” and an “American-made” approach to manufacturing iron, steel, and other goods is proposed for all federally funded public projects. The bill also proposes that incentives be established for industrial facilities to upgrade energy and water efficiency as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It’s important to note that environmental justice is closely connected throughout the bill’s proposals. Reducing waste and placing a temporary pause on permitting of new and expanded plastic production facilities is another notable element to the legislation along with modernizing America’s recycling and waste management programs.

Lastly, the LIFT America Act proposes to invest more than $312 billion in clean energy, energy efficiency, drinking water, broadband, and health care infrastructure. For a quick overview on how that proposed investment breaks down for sectors, you can review the press release. It’s important to note that hearings on these proposals are happening at a quick pace and the legislation will evolve and change.

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