Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the first opportunities for public input on new programs focused on lower-carbon construction materials made possible by a $350 million investment from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
In August, Congress passed the IRA into law, creating the largest investment to combat the climate crisis in U.S. history. EPA received $41.5 billion in appropriations to develop and support 24 new and existing programs that monitor and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and air pollution and advance environmental justice.
The Agency will hold three public webinars and will accept written feedback on establishing new grant and technical assistance programs, and a carbon labeling program for construction materials with substantially lower levels of embodied GHG emissions.
Embodied GHG emissions refer to the amount of 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 new programs will provide grants, technical assistance, and tools to help states and Tribal Nations, manufacturers, institutional buyers, real estate developers, builders, and others measure, report, and substantially lower the levels of embodied carbon and other GHG emissions associated with all relevant stages of production, use and disposal of construction materials and products including steel, concrete, asphalt, and glass.
EPA will hold three public webinars to solicit feedback from experts and stakeholders, including institutional buyers, developers, builders, manufacturers, and representatives from states, Tribal Nations, non-profit organizations, trade associations, and others.
- March 2, 2023, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. EST: Reducing Embodied Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Construction Materials Prioritization and Environmental Data Improvement – 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. Register here.
- March 22, 2023, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. EST: Reducing Embodied Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Grants and Technical Assistance for Environmental Product Declarations – This webinar will ask for feedback on new grant and technical assistance programs to help businesses calculate and report the greenhouse gas emissions data for construction materials and products through Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs). Register here.
- April 19, 2023, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. EST: Reducing Embodied Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Carbon Labeling – This webinar will ask for feedback on how EPA could develop a carbon labeling program for construction materials and products with substantially lower embodied greenhouse gas emissions. Register here.
In addition, EPA will issue a Request for Information to solicit written comments on the design of the new programs. Upon publication of the Federal Register notice, comments on any of the questions outlined should be submitted to docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2022-0924 on www.regulations.gov by May 1, 2023.
EPA will use the public input received during the webinars and in writing to guide the development and implementation of its programs.
The programs support the Biden administration’s Buy Clean Initiative, which leverages the federal government’s power as the largest purchaser in the world to advance low-carbon construction materials across its procurement and funded infrastructure projects.