Guidance on Implementing Low-Carbon Construction Material Policies and Limits on Public Projects
A growing number of government agencies at the local, state, and federal levels are integrating greenhouse gas reduction requirements into their procurement policies for construction materials. This report summarizes guidance for the government agencies responsible for implementing those procurement policies. Guidance was developed through interviews with individuals at government agencies with implementation experience and research on existing programs targeting embodied carbon reductions.
A growing number of government agencies at the local, state, and federal levels are integrating greenhouse gas reduction requirements into their procurement policies for construction materials. While many of these policies are referred to as ‘Buy Clean’ policies, each policy varies widely in scope and structure and may be a result of legislation, executive orders, agency purchasing standards, or building code.
This report summarizes guidance for government agencies who are responsible for implementing procurement policies, focusing on how agencies can increase success once a policy has been established, not on how legislators or other policymakers can design new Buy Clean policies.
The guidance in this report was developed through research and interviews with agencies responsible for implementing existing policies. Referenced policies include:
- Federal policies and programs: Clean Futures Act, Executive Order 14057, FHWA Sustainable Pavements Program, and the GSA Green Building Advisory Committee Advice Letter
- State policies and programs: Buy Clean California, CalTrans EPD Program, Buy Clean Colorado, the Buy Clean Buy Fair Washington Project, the New York State Low Embodied Concrete Leadership Act, and the Oregon Concrete EPD Program
- Local policies and programs: Marin County Low Carbon Concrete Building Code, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Clean Construction Program, Portland Low-Carbon Concrete Program, and Sound Transit.
The research team from the Carbon Leadership Forum at the University of Washington College of Built Environments:
- Meghan Lewis, Senior Researcher, Carbon Leadership Forum
- Jordan Palmeri, Technical Consultant
- Kate Simonen, Executive Director, Carbon Leadership Forum
Author contributions: M.L., J.P., and K.S. led conceptualization; J.P. and M.L. conducted research and analysis; M.L., J.P., and K.S. performed review and editing; M.L. and J.P. wrote the paper.
This research was funded by the ClimateWorks Foundation. We would like to thank the following individuals for contributing their experience through interviews in November and December 2021:
- Daniel Q. Garza, Scott Fong, and Brenden Jiang at the California Department of General Services;
- Denis Martynowych at Sound Transit (Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority);
- Dorian Bailey, Peter Bacas, Josh DeFlorio, Amy Cole, and Melissa Targett at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey;
- Jessica Brown, Leslie Stanton, and Stephanie Meyn at the Port of Seattle;
- Brian Reyes at Marin County; and
- Stacey Foreman at the City of Portland.
We would also like to thank Mark Chen and Bailey Zak at Skanska USA Building for providing case study data for Figure 2 on A4 and A5 emissions.
Implementing Buy Clean: Guidance on Implementing Low-Carbon Construction Material Policies and Limits on Public Projects is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence.