New York Governor Kathy Hochul has taken a “monumental step” forward in slashing embodied carbon and greenhouse gas emissions in building construction. Earlier this month, the Hochul administration announced the adoption of Buy Clean Concrete: a series of mandatory rules that place limits on the amount of concrete used in state-funded public building and transportation projects.
The guidelines were informed by several recommendations from New York’s Climate Action Council Scoping Plan from 2022 which called for “making embodied carbon transparent and adopting lower carbon specifications for high intensity materials for state projects” a press release stated.
When the law goes into effect on January 1, 2025, data pertaining to construction materials and product lifecycle/environmental impact will be readily available through a report called an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD). The report will allow architects and builders to compare the environmental impact of concrete mixes. New York becomes the first state in the U.S. to pass this sort of legislation that covers all state agency projects.
After January 1, 2025, builders will have to submit EPDs to the state to demonstrate the project has an environmental impact below the limits set by New York state. According to the press statement, “These EPDs will provide transparency and a more robust accounting of a concrete mix’s greenhouse gas emissions and enable state agencies and other stakeholders to make more informed choices in reducing emissions. The state is working towards providing concrete producers with the technical assistance they need to meet the EPD requirements.”
“Adopting Buy Clean Concrete guidelines marks a monumental step in our journey towards a more sustainable and eco-friendly New York state,” Hochul said in a statement.“By setting mandatory emissions limits on concrete used in state-funded projects, we’re not just leading by example but creating a tangible roadmap for reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the board.”
Buy Clean Concrete is in line with Hochul’s Executive Order 22, otherwise known as “Leading by Example,” which requires New York state agencies to collect data pertaining to common construction materials as part of its decarbonization program. The Buy Clean Concrete guidelines include exceptions however for emergency projects. The guidelines specifically apply to state agency contracts that exceed $1 million and involve the use of more than 50 cubic yards of concrete. It also applies to Department of Transportation contracts that exceed $3 million and incorporate at least 200 cubic yards of concrete.
To date, New York state has some of the most aggressive rules in place to achieve a net-zero emission electricity sector by 2040. Buy Clean Concrete is in lieu with New York state’s broader goal of having 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and an economy-wide carbon neutrality by 2050.