Climate Change Regulation and Its Impact on the Construction Industry

On December 19, Moye White hosted a Construction Seminar on the impact of climate change regulations on the construction industry. The panel outlined recent developments in climate change bills working their way through the Colorado Legislature as well as those recently passed, including House Bill 19-1261, the Colorado Climate Action Plan.
Moderated by Dan Wennogle, co-chair of the firm’s Construction Group, the event featured partners David Arkell and Zaki Robbins as panelists. Arkell is part of a select group guiding and informing agencies as they draft regulations to implement through the Associated General Contractors of Colorado and other construction and real estate trade groups allied with AGC in this effort.

The panel discussion outlined the Colorado Climate Action Plan, including its goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25% by 2025, 50% by 2030, and 90% by 2050. 

In an effort to help explain the direct connection between large-scale construction projects and carbon emissions, the panelists outlined two different types of carbon: operational carbon, which account for 28% of current greenhouse gas emissions (e.g., heating/cooling, appliances, etc.) and embedded carbon, accounting for 11% (e.g., manufacturing and transportation, construction and deconstruction, resource extraction and materials, etc.).

Diving deeper, Arkell, Robbins, and Wennogle discussed the potential implications on the industry if Colorado succeeds in becoming the benchmark for the rest of the nation in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These implications include everything from the types of concrete used and how that concrete or asphalt is laid to using locally sourced materials and single suppliers to be more efficient. 

The impact the panelists describe is already being seen. For example, cities across the U.S. are prohibiting natural gas in all new buildings. But the positive changes could bring complicated questions for contractors, design professionals, and developers. For example, say an architect designed a building three years ago and it will take four more years to build. What does that mean in 2024, knowing that in 2025 you’ll have to be at a 25% reduction in emissions? What if completion is delayed until 2025? 

The construction industry will have to adjust and build projects to meet future emissions goals while meeting the demands of today, without being priced out of the market.

The regulations to implement House Bill 19-1261 have not yet been proposed.  The Colorado Air Pollution Control Division and its consultants are currently in the process of gathering input from interested stakeholders and the public generally.  The APCD is expected to publish draft regulations, which will be known as Regulation 22, within the next month or two.

Join us for future Construction Seminars on March 12, June 11, September 10, and December 10. Subscribe to receive updates on our programming.