What’s Happening with the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and Low Carbon Construction Materials?

The landmark Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 signaled a shift in how the nation views construction materials—notably concrete and asphalt. It asserts national policy and leverages federal funding for production of substantially lower carbon construction materials. This blog entry provides an update on key programs.

Soon after passage, U.S. EPA issued initial guidance on how to categorize low carbon materials, based on environmental product declarations (EPD) and global warming potential (GWP) of materials.  

The General Services Administration (GSA) followed soon with 150 pilot projects that utilized the U.S. EPA guidance for ranking materials and set its own GWP levels for concrete and asphalt.  This program substantially increased the number of concrete and asphalt EPDs nationwide.

This year, U.S. EPA has accelerated implementation of the IRA's low carbon construction materials provisions.  This includes two grant programs to assist trade groups, companies, and state transportation agencies develop EPDs and implement low carbon strategies.  They will announce grant approvals over the next several months.

More significantly, the U.S. EPA has initiated a draft for its primary IRA program—the Labelling Program for Low Embodied Carbon Construction Materials.  This will determine GWP levels, identify and rank low-carbon products, and ultimately leverage federal transportation funds based on low carbon materials.  The GWP levels and labelling of concrete and asphalt products could be in place as early as next summer.  It will be imperative that producers and state agencies are ready to meet these new requirements.

A status update on U.S. EPA and related agency IRA implementation is attached.