‘Build Back Better’ with Sustainable Construction Practices

By: Jim Nicolow, Principal at Lord Aeck Sargent & Taylor Keep, Senior Director of Platform Product Management

In the wake of COVID-19, the Biden Administration’s “Build Back Better” economic recovery plan includes investment in modern, sustainable infrastructure to build a clean energy economy.

The Administration seeks to mobilize American manufacturing and innovation to create a more resilient, sustainable, equitable economy. Recognizing that nearly 30% of greenhouse gas emissions come from operating buildings, and an additional 11% of emissions are embodied carbon from building products and construction, the nation’s building sector must be part of the solution to achieve President Biden’s Goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

In February 2021, 130+ leading design, engineering and construction services organizations from across the US outlined tangible, specific building sector actions the Administration should take within the first 100 days to achieve their climate goals and begin the transition to a clean energy economy.

With the building industry playing such a vital role in the economy, the environment and the social fabric of our communities, here are three areas construction companies can adjust their business practices to align with the Administration’s new initiative and help accelerate the pace of change. 

1. Implement low carbon design and construction practices to support enhancing federal building standards 

2. Increase supply chain oversight and streamline with end-to-end integration to promote material health and product transparency 

Katerra CLT Factory

3. Prioritize reuse of existing buildings versus new construction to help stimulate local economies 

There’s no silver bullet to course correcting one of the nation’s largest industries. However, offsite construction, adaptive reuse and low-carbon building materials contribute to a sustainable infrastructure and clean energy economy. Taking a holistic approach makes it possible to effectively move the needle on construction industry sustainability.

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