The White House announced a broad plan on Wednesday to expand building code standards at federally funded sites and to incentivize projects to meet the new standards at state and local governments.
The Biden administration says the new standards are for combating climate change and the extreme weather predicted to accompany it. The new initiative seeks to “boost resilience to the impacts of climate change, lower utility bills for homes and businesses, and prioritize underserved communities,” according to a release from the White House.
The plan uses funds from the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that President Joe Biden signed into law last year, with $225 million going to the Department of Energy to implement the new building standards.
The plan includes a review of all federally funded construction projects with federal agencies reporting to the National Climate Task Force that Biden put in place at the start of his presidency.
The new standards will be used to guide construction projects like those in areas that have received a federal disaster declaration and are being built with Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funds through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
It also includes federal housing programs at other agencies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Agriculture.
Additionally, the administration says it’s seeking to provide incentives for communities to meet the new codes to better prepare structures for weather-related events and save on energy costs. The 35 percent of communities that have upgraded their codes are saving about $1.6 billion annually in damage expenses, according to a study by FEMA.
Last year, Biden announced his administration’s commitment that at least 40 percent of all federal investments in “clean energy” will go to disadvantaged communities.
Biden’s federal construction policy has taken on a radically different tone from that of his predecessor, further entrenching Washington in the regulatory process of the industry. In contrast, former President Donald Trump signed an executive order to ease the federal government’s building regulations. In other action, he signed an order recommending classical architecture as the “preferred and default architecture” for public federal government buildings in Washington.