The Biden administration announced steps to improve buildings’ energy efficiency and limit carbon emissions from concrete on Wednesday and is expected to invoke the Defense Production Act to spur battery production. The Department of Energy announced $3.16 billion in new funding for the Weatherization Assistance Program. The cheapest energy is the energy that isn’t needed and the new WAP funds will enable a more-than tenfold increase in the number of homes eligible for energy efficiency retrofits. DOE also announced new efficiency standards for federal buildings.

The General Services Administration, often described as the government’s landlord, also released new requirements for concrete and asphalt used by federal contractors in major agency projects.

Battery materials

Additionally, President Biden is expected to invoke the Defense Production Act to incentivize and expand extraction of the raw materials, including lithium, nickel, graphite, cobalt, and manganese, required for batteries. Increased extraction raises serious concerns for Native and other historically excluded communities who worry their land will now be targeted by mining companies. House Natural Resources Chair Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) has warned Biden against using the DPA for critical minerals because of the risk to “natural resources and environmental justice communities.”

“Rather than just digging up or importing more, we should start with improved recovery and waste reduction throughout supply chains,” NRDC senior lands analyst Bobby McEnaney told the Washington Post. An administration official told E&E news DOE and DOI will not allow extraction undertaken in light of a DPA order to hasten or circumvent permitting or environmental review processes. (WAP: Washington Post $, CNBC; Federal buildings: Utility Dive, The Hill; Concrete: E&E News; Defense Production Act: Washington Post $, E&E News, Wall Street Journal $, Reuters, Politico, Bloomberg $, The Hill)