On December 8, 2021, President Biden issued Executive Order (EO) 14057 “Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs Through Federal Sustainability.” The EO is the administration’s most recent effort to achieve “a carbon pollution-free electricity sector by 2035 and net-zero emissions economy-wide by no later than 2050.”

Federal agencies, government suppliers, and American businesses are urged to embrace the administration’s sustainability objectives and attain cleaner and more sustainable operation standards.

Federal Sustainability Plan

The EO describes the Biden administration’s efforts to adopt green technology by focusing on five aspects.

100% carbon pollution-free electricity by 2030. The percentage of produced carbon pollution-free electricity must be commensurate to 100% of facility electrical energy use annually. And at least 50% of that produced energy must be supplied hourly by the same regional grid where it is consumed. Federal agencies can achieve that by buying directly from utilities generating carbon pollution-free electricity, developing onsite carbon pollution-free electricity storage, and partnering with the private sector.

100% zero-emission vehicle acquisitions by 2035, including 100% zero-emission light-duty vehicle acquisitions by 2027.  Federal agencies with a fleet of at least 20 vehicles shall draft a zero-emission strategy to maximize procurement and deployment of zero-emission vehicles. And agencies are to maintain their fleet in collaboration with the private sector by developing and expanding charging infrastructures.

Climate-resilient infrastructure and operations by 2045, including a 50% emissions reduction by 2032. To achieve that, federal agencies should improve energy efficiency, eliminate onsite fossil fuel use, and conserve both water and energy.

Net-zero emissions from federal procurement, including a “Buy Clean” policy to promote the use of construction materials with lower embodied emissions by 2050. Federal agencies shall prioritize procuring products that can be reused, refurbished, or recycled, and products that are bio-based, water and energy-efficient, and produced per relevant statutory requirements.

A climate and sustainability-focused federal workforce is to achieve a 65% reduction from the 2008 baseline in scope 1, 2, and 3 greenhouse gas emissions, as defined by the Federal Greenhouse Gas Accounting and Reporting, by 2030.

Impact on Government Contractors

Though the EO does not attain the same durability as legislation enacted by Congress, the public, private, and nonprofit sectors should be aware and prepared to implement the administration’s sustainability objectives. One potential requirement for federal contractors is the disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions, climate-related financial risk, and their “emissions reduction targets.” That requirement is in response to EO 14030, which directs the Federal Acquisition Regulatory (FAR) Council to consider amending the FAR to require major federal suppliers to make such a disclosure. That EO also urges the FAR Council to consider amending the FAR to ensure that certain agency procurements do the following:

  1. Minimize the risk of climate change.
  2. Consider the social cost of greenhouse gas emission in procurement decisions.

The FAR Council’s response to the Biden administration’s requests in EO 14030, expected to be published on January 13, 2022, will provide federal contractors insight into how the government will structure upcoming procurements.

Federal contractors should evaluate how EO 14057 relates to their business and its objectives and prepare to hit the ground running once the FAR Council discloses how EO 14030 will be implemented in order to be prepared to satisfy the requirements of upcoming procurements.

If you have questions on the Biden administration’s efforts to combat the climate crisis and how the EO could impact you, please contact Todd Overman or any member of our Government Contracts Practice Group.

The author would like to thank our law clerk Ustina Ibrahim for her valuable contributions to this article.