Climate-smart buildings called out in federal budget playbook

The federal government is readying for climate change in an increasing way by being proactive on a number of fronts.

One of the latest examples of this relates to the future construction on and upgrades to federal buildings.

The government’s latest budget playbook,  Circular A-11, for the first time includes a specific mention of climate-smart buildings. The Office of Management and Budget, via the circular, is asking all agencies to ensure that the funding requests...

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The federal government is readying for climate change in an increasing way by being proactive on a number of fronts.

One of the latest examples of this relates to the future construction on and upgrades to federal buildings.

The government’s latest budget playbook,  Circular A-11, for the first time includes a specific mention of climate-smart buildings. The Office of Management and Budget, via the circular, is asking all agencies to ensure that the funding requests they make regarding federal facilities comply with climate preparedness and resilience goals spelled out in Executive Order 13653.

The section of the circular dealing with buildings doesn’t go into exhaustive detail about how agencies can keep climate preparedness front and center in their budgeting decisions, only to direct them to do so.

But Ali Zaidi, associate director for Natural Resources, Energy and Science at the Office of Management and Budget, last week wrote a blog post providing some context about how crucial climate change is in planning for the future of federal buildings.

“Making our Federal facility investments climate-smart reduces our fiscal exposure to the impacts of climate change,” he writes in the post. “It’s the right thing to do to run an efficient and effective government.  And it’s the right thing to do to return the highest value to the American taxpayer.”

Zaidi said, in the blog, that “climate-smart will take on different meaning for each agency and asset.” That’s because, between the diverse cross-section of federal agencies, there is a wide array of real estate represented — from hospitals to national parks.

The fact that climate smart infrastructure is mentioned as a consideration in Circular A-11 is part of a larger hope for the federal government “to take action to better prepare and become more resilient to the impacts of climate change,” he added in the blog post.

OMB revises the circular annually, providing the most up-to-date guidance for agencies on budgeting procedures and policies. With the newest updates, the circular also tackles environmental readiness by asking agencies to comply with green building requirements along with agency-approved climate adoption plans.

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