Construction Group Launches Climate Initiative

Construction industry trade group leaders outlined a series of steps public officials and the construction industry should take to address the impacts of the built environment on climate change recently. The new initiative from the Associated General Contractors of America is designed to lessen the carbon footprint of the built environment while also making the process of building projects even more efficient.

“The construction industry is the delivery vehicle for building a greener, more climate friendly future,” Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. “Finding a way to ensure that what our members build is more efficient will have a significant impact on climate change.”

Sandherr noted that construction activity accounts for less than two percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Meanwhile, the built environment accounts for approximately one-third of greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, while the new initiative includes steps construction firms can take to operate more efficiently, the bulk of the effort is focused on pushing for public and private project owners to build more efficient projects and discovering how we can also support them in that process.

Among the measures outlined in the new initiative include calling for a national strategy to invest in physical infrastructure that will make communities more resilient. The association is also calling for an increase in investments and funding opportunities for public and private infrastructure to build more efficient highways, water plants and other facilities.

Public officials should also invest in modernizing federal buildings to make them more efficient. The association is also calling for expanding tax incentives and deductions to encourage the private sector to build more efficient buildings. And the group is calling for expedited permitting for projects that improve efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Association officials also identified steps contractors can take to operate more efficiently. This includes encouraging equipment manufacturers to improve the fuel efficiency of their equipment, helping firms learn how to reduce equipment idling and sharing information about industry innovations like solar powered job site trailers and energy efficient job site lighting.

The new initiative was crafted by a special climate change task force for the association created earlier this year. Representatives from 18 different member firms participated in the task force meetings and helped craft the recommendations outlined in the initiative. “You can’t wish for a greener future, you have to build it,” Les Snyder, the president of Shikun & Binui America in Pittsburgh and the chair of the association’s climate change task force, said in a statement.