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 five 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,” said Stephen Sandherr, CEO of the Associated General Contractors of America. “As good as our accomplishments are, we can do even better.”
Sandherr said 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; 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 noted 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 last week said 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 said. “While the construction sector already accounts for less than one 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 urged 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.