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U.S. construction already green, says report


April 22, 2009
By Andy Bateman

April 22, 2009 – The U.S. construction industry accounts for less than one percent of
all U.S. annual green house gas emissions, according to a new analysis.


The
analysis of federal environmental data from the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) by 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 over five percent of the U.S. workforce and over 800,000
small businesses, the association noted.

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“This data shows that we aren’t just constructing cleaner projects, we’re
building a cleaner construction industry,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, chief
executive officer 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 said.

The association 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
http://www.epa.gov/sectors/pdf/construction-sector-report.pdf.