Environmental Observer
The Associated General Contractors of America | Quality People. Quality Projects.
www.agc.orgMay 1, 2009 / Issue No. 3-09
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On the Inside
Editor's Note
AGC Releases Earth Day Message on Greenhouse Gas Emissions
EPA Proposes Regulating Greenhouse Gases under Clean Air Act
U.S. House of Representatives Begins Debate on Draft Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Bill
EPA Publishes Proposed Rule for Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gases by Major Sources
U.S. Senate Committee to Consider Wetlands Jurisdiction Expansion Bill
Green Construction
AGC Highlights Construction's Importance in a Green Economy
AGC Member Testifies Before Congress on Green Construction
AGC Wants Green Job Training Grants Available to Contractors
Editor's Note
AGC Releases Earth Day Message on Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are on the forefront of environment and energy discussions in the news and in state and federal policymaking. This Earth Day, AGC looks at the GHG emissions associated with the construction industry and challenges members to take a common sense approach to reduce emissions from their equipment. See press release.

Individual construction firms emit very little GHG emissions from their equipment and energy use. Consider the size of the industry: Construction spending totaled $1.14 trillion (8.2 percent of GDP) in 2007 and employed 6.8 million people in 778,000 companies (2005). Despite its enormous size, the construction industry primarily is made up of small businesses. In 2005, 92 percent of construction firms had fewer than 20 employees. The industry includes residential and nonresidential building construction, highway construction, heavy industrial construction, municipal utility construction, and special trades such as plumbing, heating, and demolition contractors. Consider the emissions attributed to the industry: The latest figures from a recently released EPA GHG inventory indicate that the equipment from construction and mining combined emitted 0.95 percent of total U.S. manmade GHG emissions in 2007. Another recent report from EPA, see below, estimates that construction equipment and energy use accounts for 1.7 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions.

Construction Reduces Emissions From Buildings and Transportation

AGC sends an important message to the public and policymakers: the construction industry helps reduce GHG emissions from all other sectors without being a major source of emissions itself.  In fact, construction and renovation ultimately are the most immediate and effective ways to improve the energy efficiency of our vertical and horizontal infrastructure.

  • Improve energy efficiency of existing and new buildings and industrial facilities
  • Reduce transportation congestion through expansion and improvements to vital infrastructure - roadways, airports, railways, and waterway systems - and the construction of mass transit options
  • Increase availability and efficiency of energy production through upgrades to existing power plants and the construction of new sources of energy (cleaner coal-burning plants, nuclear, and alternative energy)

Click on the links below to learn more about AGC's message.

AGC Green Construction Talking Points
AGC Environmental Stewardship and Green Construction Initiatives
AGC Environmental Observer Special Climate Change Issue June 2008
AGC Comments to EPA on Regulating GHG Emissions under the Clean Air Act
AGC Testimony on Constructing a Green Transportation Policy
AGC Letter Encouraging an Inclusive Definition of Green Jobs
Constructor Magazine March/April 2009 Issue: Focus on Green Construction

Potential For Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Construction Sector

In February 2009, EPA Sector Strategies Program released a report on common sense ways that contractors can reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from equipment and energy use. Three ways the report indicates that contractors can reduce emissions are by implementing no-idling policies, maintaining equipment, and training operators. The report also highlights the important role that recycling of construction and demolition debris has on averting GHG emissions mainly from avoiding the steps associated with harvesting and processing of raw materials. AGC encourages members to review this report at http://www.epa.gov/sectors/pdf/construction-sector-report.pdf

For more information, contact Melinda Tomaino at (703) 837-5415 or tomainom@agc.org.
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