May 1, 2009
Sustainability initiatives and green building products are a burgeoning segment of the construction industry. Find out about the latest efforts made by OEMs, as well as the latest innovations and resources for the rental industry.

Construction Industry Makes the Grade on Green House Gas Emissions

The construction industry accounts for less than one percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions according to a new analysis of federal environmental data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Associated General Contractors of America found that all equipment used by the construction industry contributed less than 0.95 percent of all U.S. manmade greenhouse gas emissions in 2007.

The newly released data shows the relative efficiency of a construction industry that currently accounts for more than 5 percent of the U.S. workforce and more than 800,000 small businesses, the association noted.

“This data shows that we aren't just constructing cleaner projects, we're building a cleaner construction industry,” says Stephen Sandherr, CEO of the Associated General Contractors of America. “As good as our accomplishments are, we can do even better.”

Sandherr says contractors around the country are taking steps to further reduce their emissions and urged other companies to follow suit. Construction contractors are, for example, turning equipment off instead of letting it idle; maintaining their equipment better; using equipment that is properly sized for the specific job; using lower-emitting fuels; and finding local sources for building materials to cut shipping-related emissions.

In addition to curbing emissions, Sandherr notes that the construction industry recycles more than any other industry. For example, the industry recycles 97.5 percent of structural steel, 65 percent of reinforcement steel and 80 percent of asphalt. Together that amounts to almost 180 million tons of material recycled and 75.7 million tons of CO2 emissions avoided each year.

Sandherr and AGC also say that federal incentives to encourage the purchase of cleaner construction equipment would help struggling equipment makers.

“As we see some of America's largest heavy equipment makers reporting virtually unprecedented losses, it is time for Congress to act on our repeated calls for new incentives to encourage the purchase of newer, more efficient and cleaner construction equipment,” Sandherr says. “While the construction sector already accounts for less than 1 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in our economy, making it easier for construction companies to replace older equipment will give a needed boost to our economy and enhance our environment. We must turn adversity into opportunity by helping our economy grow jobs, boost productivity and further shrink emissions.”

AGC also urges construction companies nationwide to review a recent EPA report for additional suggestions on ways to reduce emissions. The report, titled “Potential for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Construction Sector” can be found online at www.epa.gov/sectors/pdf/construction-sector-report.pdf.

AGC is headquartered in Arlington, Va., and operates in partnership with its nationwide network of chapters. A full-service national trade association AGC represents more than 32,000 leading firms in the industry, including general contractors, specialty contractors, and service providers and suppliers.

All Star Rents Proves Itself a Green All-Star

Fairfield, Calif.-based All Star Rents is promoting rental as “the green thing to do” on its website www.allstarrents.com. The family-owned company, which has 11 locations across Northern California and Nevada, endorses rental as a green alternative to owning equipment and a positive choice that avoids contributing another piece of equipment to a landfill someday.

Two keys to living green are to reduce and reuse. According to All Star Rents, renting equipment not only reduces the contribution to landfills, but it also reduces the amount of oil needed to lubricate the equipment when it is rented rather than purchased. In addition, it reduces the pollution that would be created when producing more equipment for purchase rather than rental.

“Most people do not need an item every day of every week, so why not share,” says All Star Rents' website. “A community that rents and reuses a resource like construction and homeowner equipment will buy less and make its footprint on our environment that much smaller.”

The company is committed to complying with and even going above and beyond government regulations. It trains employees on how to follow regulations that help reduce the company's impact on the environment. All Star Rents also follows all Air Resources Board policies and upgrades its equipment to meet their regulations.

“In addition, we have replaced power hungry light fixtures and reduced our power usage by hundreds of thousands of watts each year,” says All Star. “There is no doubt that equipment use is a contributor to environmental impact, but renting will help reduce that impact greatly.”

Submit green products and technologies, and sustainability innovations for consideration in EnviroRent to Brandey Smith at [email protected].