Inflation Reduction Act Programs to Fight Climate Change by Reducing Embodied Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Construction Materials and Products
The Inflation Reduction Act invests $350 million for grants, technical assistance and tools, including carbon labeling, to help manufacturers, institutional buyers, real estate developers, builders and others measure, report and substantially lower the levels of embodied carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions associated with all relevant stages of production, use and disposal of construction materials and products including steel, concrete, asphalt and glass.
Embodied greenhouse gas emissions refer to the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the extraction, production, transport and manufacturing of materials. Low embodied carbon materials have less climate impact associated with mining, manufacturing and transportation. Traditionally, steel, concrete, asphalt and flat glass contain a high quantity of embodied emissions due to the energy-intensive processes used to extract raw materials like limestone, taconite ore and silica and then converting those raw materials into products.
EPA's Pollution Prevention program will implement these programs to:
Spur market demand for construction materials and products that have substantially lower embodied greenhouse gas emissions;
Increase the transparency of greenhouse gas emissions data associated with the production, use, and disposal of construction materials and products; and
Assist businesses in disclosing and verifying these data, as well as states, Indian tribes and non-profit organizations that assist these businesses.
On Jan. 19, 2023, EPA issued a Request for Information to announce that it is seeking public comment on a series of questions about developing these new programs. EPA encourages all interested parties to submit written comments; responses must be received by May 1, 2023.
Reducing Embodied Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Construction Materials Prioritization and Environmental Data Improvement
March 2, 2023
2 – 3:30 p.m. EST
This webinar will ask for feedback on how to prioritize construction materials and products and how to improve data on embodied greenhouse gas emissions through measurement, standardization, transparency and reporting criteria.
Reducing Embodied Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Grants and Technical Assistance for Environmental Product Declarations
March 22, 2023
2 – 3:30 p.m. EST
This webinar will ask for feedback on new grant and technical assistance programs to help business calculate and report the greenhouse gas emissions data for construction materials and products though Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs).
Reducing Embodied Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Carbon Labeling
April 19, 2023
2 – 3:30 p.m. EST
This webinar will ask for feedback on how the EPA should develop a new carbon labeling program for construction materials and products and products with substantially lower embodied greenhouse gas emissions.
For questions about the new programs, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 provided the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the General Services Administration (GSA) with funding to select materials and products with substantially lower levels of embodied greenhouse gas emissions as determined by EPA.
On December 22, 2022, EPA sent an interim determination (pdf) and a cover memo (pdf) to help these agencies meet this directive. The interim determination provides GSA and FHWA with actionable determinations on selecting materials and products that meet the standards of Inflation Reduction Act Sections 60503 and 60506, which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from federally funded building, infrastructure and construction projects, with a particular emphasis on reducing major industrial emissions from construction projects in the United States. The interim determination will assist those agencies in quickly beginning to use Inflation Reduction Act resources to meet federal goals and will assist EPA in learning lessons for the development of Inflation Reduction Act Sections 60112 and 60116 programs.
For purposes of the interim determination, based on best available information, EPA interprets “substantially lower” as meaning a global-warming potential, based on Environmental Product Declarations, that is in the best performing 20 percent (top 20 percent or lowest 20 percent in embodied greenhouse gas emissions) when compared to similar materials/products. The full interim determination includes considerations if a material/product is unavailable in a project’s location. Additionally, providers of qualifying materials/products are required to report the supplying plant's ENERGY STAR Energy Performance Score where an Energy Performance Indicator is available.
EPA expects that its determination may evolve as the Agency gains a better understanding of the relevant industry averages and develops better methodologies for assessing what materials and products embody “substantially lower” greenhouse-gas emissions.