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A Lakewood building once used to make bullets is now geared to fight climate change

Building 48 at the Denver Federal Center in Lakewood was originally a munitions plant. Now the federal government wants to make it a clean energy workplace.

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — Building 48 at the Denver Federal Center is showing the wear and tear of 82 years. 

Originally an ordnance plant, it's where employees produced 6,000 cartridges of small caliber bullets a day for World War II soldiers.

Now the building itself may be ammunition to fight climate change. It will be transformed into a clean energy workspace for Department of the Interior employees that are currently working out of rented office spaces located across the Denver area. 

After a $47 million facelift, the building will be powered by renewable energy and be 100% carbon emission-free.

“Today you’re really showing what the 'walk the walk' looks like when we’re talking about climate change," National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy said.

During a visit to Lakewood on Wednesday, McCarthy said she wants the revamped Building 48 to be a role model for all federal buildings. She said the goal is for the entire federal infrastructure to use 100% carbon pollution free electricity by 2030.

“We’re paying attention to science, and we are going to move at the speed that science demands,” McCarthy said.

Also on the tour Wednesday was Robin Carnahan, the administrator of General Services, which is an independent agency of the United States government established to help manage and support the basic functioning of federal agencies. 

“So it is a triple win," she said. "Good investment, good for jobs, and good for the health of our planet and our people.”

Carnahan said the U.S. government spends $75 billion a year on contracting, and they manage 740 million square feet of real estate. She said the Biden-Harris administration has directed her to leverage that portfolio to accelerate climate goals.

“So we can use the government's buying power in smart ways that also help the environment,” she said. 

The federal government also has a fleet of nearly half a million vehicles. Both Carnahan and McCarthy emphasized that they plan to eventually make them all emission-free.

“This is an exciting opportunity, I think, to send a huge signal, including our automakers, that they will have guaranteed demand," McCarthy said. "Just produce the damn cars, get them built in the United States of America.”

McCarthy said the Denver Federal Center is the largest concentration of federal agencies outside of Washington D.C., and that Building 48 is only the first to be transformed. That building's remodel is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2023.

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