January 31, 2008 / Issue No. 1-08
 
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Water
EPA Fast Tracks Rule To Set Limits on Sediment in Construction Runoff
AGC Joins Coalition in Comments to U.S. EPA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Wetlands Jurisdictional Guidance
New Energy Law Includes Stormwater Standard for Federal Development Projects
EPA Announces Several New Resources for Stormwater Professionals
Air
AGC Comments on Last-Minute Changes to Californiaís Off-road Diesel Rules
AGC Weighs in on Green House Gas Provision in Energy Bill, Wins Short-Term Safeguard
EPA Announces Webcast on 2008 Diesel Retrofit Funding Opportunities
Chemicals
New Rule Regulates Chemical Storage Facilities and Operators
News & Events
Donít Miss the Unveiling of AGCís New LEED Course for Contractors at 2008 Annual Convention; Registration Reopened
AGC Environmental Network Steering Committee To Meet at 2008 Annual Convention; All Attendees Welcome
AGC Audio Conference Planned to Provide Contractors with the Basics of Green Construction
Complete Recordings from AGCís 2007 Environmental Audio Conferences Now Available
AGC-EPA Interface
Environmental Performance Metrics for Construction

  Environmental Performance Metrics for Construction
We know construction practices are improving across the country, but we don’t have data to prove it.  How can EPA measure progress nationwide in such a large industry with so many small companies and so little data?

By Peter Truitt
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Construction Sector Lead

In September 2007, EPA completed a report recommending ways to track environmental trends in the Construction industry.  A team of EPA people working with construction, led by the Sector Strategies Program, undertook the project to get a better understanding of how your industry is performing.  It was not intended to gauge the success of government and industry environmental programs (there are many more factors to consider), but it could be helpful for such an assessment later on. 

The study goes beyond our partnership work with AGC of America. Home building is included.  Energy and climate change, which have not been a focus of our partnership, are covered because they are becoming an important part of the U.S. environmental agenda. 

We selected five topics to measure: green building practices by construction contractors, C&D debris management, diesel air emissions, stormwater compliance, and energy use & greenhouse gas emissions.

Federal government limitations on data collection meant we had to rely solely on existing government and industry-generated data. Our task was challenging because EPA and state databases have so little information on construction that could be useful for tracking performance.
 
The table below shows our recommended measures and a snapshot of the trends.

Topic

Recommended Measure

Trend

Green Building Practices

Construction-Related LEED Credits Earned. (Report describes “construction-related”)

Rapid annual increase, 2000-2006.

Average Construction-Related Credits per LEED Project

Steady since 2002, at about ½ total credits possible.

LEED Accredited Professional General Contractors

610 in 2006, the first year of data.

C&D Debris Management

Generated C&D Debris That Is Recycled in 5 States (No useful nationwide data; EPA is developing a new method for estimating.)

Slight decline in percent recycled in 5 states combined, 1999-2004. 28% in most recent year - 2004. May not reflect a national trend.

Diesel Air Emissions

Emissions Reductions from Construction Diesel Retrofits

7,800 tons PM, 39,700 tons NOx eliminated thru 40 retrofit projects, 2003-2006. (Data not yet available for another 45 projects.)

Stormwater Compliance

Nationally Representative Trend in Permit Coverage per $Billion Construction Value

45% increase, 2003-2006.

Nationally Representative Trend in Permit Coverage as % of Total Construction Projects (adjusted for various factors)

63% increase, 2003-2006.  Percent of projects in compliance still unknown.

Energy Use & Greenhouse Gas Emissions

CO2 Emissions from Construction Energy Consumption (fossil fuels & electricity)

114.1 Million Metric Tons CO2 Equivalent in 2002 (Note: this estimate has subsequently been revised upward)

Total GHG Emissions from Nonroad Construction and Mining Equipment

Increased 2000-2005 to 66.3 MMTCO2 Eq. Slower increase when normalized for value of construction.

Fuel Used by Construction Equipment – Normalized by Value of Construction

Approximately 1.5 billion gals per year. No significant change 1995-2005.

To read the full report, Measuring Construction Industry Environmental Performance, go to EPA’s Sector Strategies Program Web site at www.epa.gov/sectors/construction/perfmeasures.pdf.   You will find all the charts and explanations of the data, as well as discussions of measures that we considered but did not recommend.

EPA will use this information (and more) to report every two years on environmental trends in construction. The 2008 Sector Strategies Performance Report, which looks at twelve sectors of the U.S. economy, is due to be released in March. The Performance Report provides governments, industry, and the public with the best available information about sector-specific progress and helps them determine where to focus more attention.  Like the “Measures” report, the Construction chapter will cover topics beyond our partnership work with AGC.  I will write an Observer article about the construction findings after the 2008 Performance Report is released.

We will continue to look for better ways to measure environmental progress by the construction industry.  I would welcome your suggestions.  Feel free to contact me at truitt.peter@epa.gov. [ return to top ]