Regulatory policy

To what extent could GHG emissions be affected by the clean purchasing policy?

Policymakers have developed strategies to protect the climate while supporting sustainable industry as concerns about greenhouse gas emissions have grown. The most effective policies are those that target the big contributors to pollution.

Buy Clean is one such policy. It aims to build a framework for assessing and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with construction materials. Clean purchasing policies could significantly reduce total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions if implemented.

What is BuyClean?

own purchasing policy - building materials

Buy Clean is a procurement policy that reduces greenhouse gases emitted during the creation of building materials. Current methods for monitoring GHG emissions are imperfect because they only take into account local emissions. However, many occur during conception and transit, often in countries with little or no environmental regulations.

This gap creates a “carbon loophole” that renders current regulations powerless to protect the global environment. Many rules are localized, so companies can outsource emissions even if they meet local environmental requirements.

Buy Clean was created to fill this gap and reduce GHG emissions caused by the construction industry in the United States. As a procurement policy, Buy Clean is supposed to govern the building materials the government chooses for public projects.

In the 10 years between 2008 and 2018, 32% of carbon emissions associated with construction in the United States came from public projects. While implementing clean purchasing policies at the government level will not completely close the carbon loophole, it is an easy way to reduce a significant portion of annual greenhouse gas emissions in U.S. industry. construction.

How Buy Clean could reduce emissions

China and the United States were responsible for 42% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2017. Chinese industry runs mainly on coal, which is one of the worst fossil fuels to pollute the atmosphere with gases greenhouse effect such as carbon dioxide.

About 30% of US building materials are imported from China. This means that even if the United States eliminated all carbon emissions associated with construction, the United States would still be adding to global GHG emissions by neglecting to account for externalized emissions.

Clean-purchase policies provide a better metric for assessing the total environmental impact of building materials, as they take into account their creation and transportation. Similar to energy rebates, Buy Clean legislation would help move the construction industry towards more sustainable practices.

Part of the Buy Clean policy is documenting GHG emissions throughout a product’s supply chain. Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) describe the impact of building materials and would encourage further best practices in the industry.

More information would also allow customers to make environmentally friendly choices.

How effective could a clean purchasing policy be?

how effective is it to buy clean

Over time, the implementation of clean purchasing policies for government and other purchases of building products from the building materials market and other sources could snowball and have a positive effect on the whole industry.

However, redirecting government procurement alone would make a big difference – for example, the recent $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill will create an estimated 200 million tonnes of CO2 if done without Buy Clean legislation.

In many cases, creating a more environmentally friendly product means higher production expenses. However, updating production methods for building materials like cement would only increase the overall cost by 2%, according to some estimates.

Other hidden costs can include drafting documents, tracking and tracing a product’s supply chain, and stopping production while equipment is updated. In some cases, construction companies may need to find a new supplier to reduce the GHGs emitted when creating their materials.

The environmental benefits of adopting clean purchasing policies for federal procurement of building materials far outweigh the small investment it would take to enforce the directive. Buy Clean legislation has already been implemented in California, but it has not yet been passed by the federal government.

Clean building materials

Industry changes are accomplished by making data available and allowing clients to invest in the companies whose policies they support the most. Clean purchasing legislation would lead to more information on the number of GHGs created in the construction industry.

This legislation would also direct significant funds to companies actively working to reduce their impact on the climate. Over time, clean purchasing policies could affect multiple industries and set a new standard for reducing carbon emissions around the world.

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