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Buy Clean Concrete Guidelines For New York Buildings

nov 8, 2023 | Blog, Decarbonization News

From 2025, emissions limits will be in place for the concrete used in New York’s state-funded projects.

New York, USA. Credit: Jeffrey Czum, Pexels

New York State has announced a “Buy Clean Concrete” mandate for its state agencies. The new rules will introduce emissions limits for the concrete used in state-funded public projects from January 1, 2025.  

1

What is Buy Clean Concrete?

Buy Clean refers to a type of procurement policy designed to promote the purchase of products with lower embodied carbon emissions. The policies are designed to reduce the environmental impact of government spending and to support the development of low carbon industries.

New York State’s Buy Clean Concrete program sets embodied carbon limits for the concrete mixes used in state-funded public building contracts. The guidance also requires the concrete used in qualifying projects to be have an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD). EPD data complies with internationally-recognized standards, making it possible to assess environmental impact and compare products against consistent benchmarks.

One Click LCA serves on the New York Embodied Carbon Technical Advisory Group — join this live Q&A on March 28th to learn more about embodied carbon in concrete: Environmental product declarations webinar.

 

2

Why is Concrete So Carbon-intensive?

Concrete is the most consumed synthetic material in the world, with 14 billion m3 of concrete produced in 2020.

Concrete is made of: cement, water, sand, aggregates and, often, chemical admixtures for increased workability.

Most of concrete’s carbon emissions come from cement. Cement in turn consists of clinker and other materials. Clinker is made by heating crushed limestone, clay and other materials in temperatures as high as 1400 degrees C. This temperature can only be achieved with high energy content fuels, so most of its production relies on fossil fuels.

Read more about low-carbon concrete and how to use it in practice: Low Carbon Concrete Eco-design Solutions

Typical concrete composition 

Credit: One Click LCA

3

Which Projects are Affected by Buy Clean Concrete?

The rules introduced by New York State apply to the following types of projects:

  • All state agency contracts over $1 million that involve the use of more than 50 cubic yards of concrete, or
  • New York Department of Transportation contracts over $3 million that include at least 200 cubic yards of concrete.

Exceptions are in place for emergency projects and those requiring high-strength or quick-cure concrete.

“Adopting Buy Clean Concrete guidelines marks a monumental step in our journey toward a more sustainable and eco-friendly New York State.

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.”

Kathy Hochul, Governor of New York

4

Are there limits on concrete carbon emissions?

Yes. From 1 January, 2025, the concrete used in qualifying projects (see above) will need to comply with mandatory carbon emissions limits. These limits will be based on 150% of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association‘s (NRMCA) regional baselines. based on 150% of the average emissions for concrete mixes in the Eastern United States.

In 2027, the limits will be revised using New York-specific data and progressively lowered in subsequent years.

5

What are the benefits of the Buy Clean Concrete policy?

With concrete production accounting for around 8% of all global carbon emissions, New York’s Buy Clean Concrete mandate is a groundbreaking step towards more sustainable construction. By mandating environmental impact limits for concrete used in state-funded projects, the policy is expected to significantly reduce the state’s carbon footprint.

Other benefits include promoting innovation in the development of low-carbon concrete mixes, raising awareness of the importance of addressing embodied carbon and strengthening the position of New York State as a leader in sustainable construction.

Architects and other professionals in the built environment can learn more about the “Buy Clean Concrete” mandate and how to comply with it by visiting the New York State website.

6

How can One Click LCA help You to Comply with Buy Clean Concrete?

In order to be used on state-funded projects in New York, concrete manufacturers will need to create and submit EPDs for their mixes.

One Click LCA’s Betong EPD-generator enables companies to create low-cost EPDs without specialist knowledge. The software makes it possible to send EPD data to buyers and specifiers, helping firms to win contracts and tenders.

When manufacturers create an EPD with One Click LCA, their data is made available in the world’s leading construction sector LCA, which is used in over 100 countries —ensuring that their product is found by architects and specifiers looking for low-carbon solutions.

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