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Construction Industry Launches Climate Change Initiative

A trade group representing contractors launched a new initiative Tuesday to push for more environmentally friendly construction. The industry is counting on the government and itself to help reduce carbon footprints.

In its 16-page report, the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) supports wide-ranging government investment and tax incentives to modernize public infrastructure,  redevelop existing federal buildings and build new ones that conserve raw materials, reduce waste and use less energy and water.

“We also need to expedite permitting for projects that will improve efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Stephen Sandherr, AGC’s CEO, said during a webinar announcing the initiative. “This includes for retrofitting existing buildings and upgrading public infrastructure.”

Les Snyder who chaired the climate change task force said the group will also focus on member accountability.

“I mean we have several firms that have completely altered their job site trailers to net zero energy and why can’t every contractor do that,” he said. “And we’re going to help our other contractors get up to speed with those innovations.”

The association’s report also outlines steps contractors can take, like reducing equipment idling.

“There’s a footnote in this report that talks about one company in particular, that they saved more than $800,000 on a single project just by implementing that anti-idling policy,” Sandherr said. “If you think about how much fuel is purchased for $800,000 that gives you a pretty good indication of the significance, not only cost savings to the contractor but reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.”

The group also wants clients and architects to include contractors earlier in the process to address sustainable materials, recycling and other environmental factors.

AGC represents contractors for utilities, infrastructure, federal, highway and building.

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.