“You can’t wish for a greener future, you have to build it.”

That was the focus of a recent webinar by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). The group hosted a virtual webinar to outline steps the construction industry should take to address its impact on climate change.

“The construction industry is key to any measures needed to make our economy more
efficient, less carbon-intensive and more resilient,” said Stephen Sandherr, AGC CEO said.

“While construction firms are responsible for only a small amount of the carbon emissions released each year, the industry has a clear obligation to find ways to operate more efficiently moving forward and to use its expertise to assist public and private owners to meet their climate objectives.”

Sandherr explained that the construction industry is the “delivery vehicle” to build a greener future, which is why the group launched its new initiative to ensure support and resources are available to construct a less carbon-intensive economy.

Les Snyder serves as the chair for the climate change task force, which includes 18 members from different construction and construction-related firms that have been meeting since the early spring.

During the meetings, the task force crafted a series of recommendations and steps construction companies, including those in the glazing industry, can take to reduce carbon emissions.

“Among those steps are engaging with equipment manufacturers to improve the fuel efficiency without sacrificing the performance of key construction machinery,” Snyder said.

The association is also planning to create a group to identify and recommend carbon-reduction programs to ensure the industry is doing its part to operate efficiently.

Snyder also explained that the U.S. construction industry is responsible for only 1-2% of the total U.S. manufactured greenhouse gas emissions.

Sandherr said several different measures are part of the association’s new initiative. These include:
• Advocating for a national strategy to invest in physical infrastructure that will make communities more resilient;
• Increasing investments and funding opportunities for public and private infrastructure to build more efficient highways, transit systems, water plants and public facilities; and
• Pushing for federal investments to modernize and make federal buildings more energy-efficient.

Sandherr also said that there is a need to expedite permitting for projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including retrofitting existing buildings and upgrading public infrastructure. He said there is also a calling for new tax incentives to encourage more efficient and potentially battery-operated construction and maintenance equipment investments.

“We also want to make sure that any new federal climate policies do not mandate construction labor and workforce policies that will exclude large segments of the construction workforce … from participating in efforts to make our economy more efficient,” said Sandherr.

The final report from the Climate Change Task Force is available here.

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