Carbon Neutrality by 2050: The Role of American Highway in Achieving This Goal
By Sarah Bazey, Executive Director, American Highway
The concrete industry has set a goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
As the largest supplier of nationwide infrastructure products and solutions, American Highway recognizes that, as a leader in innovation, high-quality products and solutions, we must also be a leader in sustainability efforts if the concrete industry is to reach this goal. That’s why we are developing a comprehensive and impactful strategic plan, working in collaboration with our supply chain, that is designed to ensure we are helping pave the way for a more sustainable transportation industry.
Two aspects of our plan that we are particularly excited about include compliance with the Build America, Buy America Act (BABAA) and an investment in the development of Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs).
During last month’s State of the Union address, President Biden detailed his BABAA standard to require all construction materials on federal infrastructure projects be made in the U.S. This includes products used to build American roads, bridges and highways. In addition, Associated General Contractors of American (AGC) shared new guidance from the Office of Management and Budget which includes manufacturing processes for steel, iron and end products; percentage of total cost requirements for sourced components; and all processes for manufacturing construction materials.
American Highway has long led the industry in producing domestically manufactured products and solutions. To assure our customers that we currently comply with existing “made in America” provisions for all federally funded airport and highway projects, we provide each with a letter certifying our long-standing commitment to Build America, Buy America. While we have created our own letter of commitment, we look forward to a standardized certificate of compliance document that can be easily adopted by others across all 50 states.
Another example of American Highway’s leadership in sustainability efforts is its implementation of Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs). An EPD is a document which transparently communicates the environmental performance or impact of any product or material over its lifetime. Within the construction industry, EPDs support carbon emission reduction by making it possible to compare the impacts of different materials and products in order to select the most sustainable option. (Source: One Click LCA)
While EPDs in construction projects and manufacturing are voluntary, American Highway has already invested considerable time and effort into their development. Companies that implement EPDs not only improve their sustainability goals but also demonstrate to their customers their commitment to the environment. And, with both public and private stakeholders increasingly demanding EPDs, delaying implementation can have a lasting impact on your business.
Additionally, American Highway is currently testing new innovations and developing operational initiatives with the goals to improve the resiliency and reduce the carbon footprint of our products and solutions as well as our processes. We expect these to be game-changing—not only for our industry but also for our customers and communities. We are excited about the progress we’ve made already and look forward to sharing more in the coming months.
A system cannot be sustainable if it is not also resilient. Pavements should be designed with an approach that considers the pavement’s entire life span. Designing with life cycle in mind can help ensure pavements enhance all three categories of sustainability: economic, environmental, and social. “Concrete is a material well-positioned to address the planet’s climate change considerations,” as stated by American Concrete Pavement Association (ACPA). The association recently released a whitepaper, “Concrete Pavement’s Role in a Sustainable, Resilient Future,” which provides an overview of sustainability and sustainability’s relationship to resilience. A one-page summary of the whitepaper can be found here.
Achieving the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050 requires all hands-on-deck—from concrete suppliers and project owners to engineers and infrastructure products and solutions providers. Our industry has been tasked with getting their message related to decarbonization and sustainability to customers, specifiers and employees. Transparency and recognition of goals and achievements are vital. The steps your organization is taking, whether it’s developing a new product or innovative process, will help you reach your sustainability goals.
Concrete plays a major and indispensable role in our sustainable future. The time to act is today! We encourage others in our industry to consider their carbon footprint and what changes can be made, to innovate, to develop a roadmap and to join American Highway in building a greener future.
Sarah Bazey, Executive Director, American Highway