According to GlobalABC, building operations and construction account for nearly 40% of global energy-related CO2 emissions and President Biden’s Executive Order on Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs Through Federal Sustainability has made several different government agencies re-think how to proceed in the future.
In April 2022, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced the FHWA Climate Challenge Program that aims to quantify greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from construction pavement materials by encouraging the use of sustainable pavement practices and encouraging quantification of the impacts of those practices.
Through the FHWA Climate Challenge, state departments of transportation (SDOTs) may receive up to $500,000 in FHWA Technology and Innovation Deployment Program funds [23 USC 503(c)]. FHWA intends to make available to each SDOT submitting an eligible application at least $65,000 of federal funding to offset the costs of implementing innovative sustainable pavements practices . The federal share of Climate Challenge projects shall not exceed 80%.
FHWA Climate Challenge funding is eligible for activities quantifying GHG emissions of pavements through the implementation of LCA and EPDs. The FHWA says that the impact of this program should be far greater than the resources invested given the ability to highlight sustainable pavement materials, technologies and designs.
FHWA Climate Challenge funding is eligible for activities quantifying GHG emissions of pavements through the implementation of LCA and EPDs.
Examples of allowable activities include, but are not limited to, the following:
- develop and deliver training to facilitate use of LCA and EPD;
- develop or refine current standards and specifications to implement quantifiable sustainable pavements approach;
- implement FHWA LCA Pave Tool to conduct LCAs;
- collect EPDs on projects;
- prepare an implementation plan for reducing carbon emissions from pavements;
- use life cycle inventories from LCA Commons Database to conduct LCA on select projects;
- implement pilots for techniques, strategies, and materials that reduce GHG emissions;
- collaborate with industry and LCA Commons to fill data gaps; and
- conduct quality assessment of PCRs using the ACLCA PCR Guidance – Process and Methods Toolkit, May 2022.
The hard deadline for submission in Monday, August 1st. The office emphasized however that there will be some flexibility when reviewing the submissions and that it is better to submit a proposal that may need some refinement after the deadline than to miss the August 1 deadline. For example, the total amount of the project needs to be included, but they don’t expect all detail for expenditures at time of submission.
The FHWA goal is to announce challenge grant participants by the end of August. During the month of August, they intend to have informal discussions about the submissions with the stakeholders. Funding for this project is currently available, and the FHWA expects projects to start within 3-6 months and to last for up to two years.
How to Apply for FHWA Climate Challenge Funding
SDOTs To apply for FHWA Climate Challenge funding, SDOTs must submit a SF-424 Application for Federal Assistance and as appropriate, either a SF-424A Budget Information for Non-Construction Programs or SF-424C Budget Information for Construction Programs. These forms can be found at https://www.grants.gov/forms/sf-424-family.html
Questions can be submitted at
Background on Climate Challenge from the FHWA
Highway pavement construction materials such as cement, aggregates, asphalt mixtures and concrete mixtures have potential environmental impacts during their life cycle including the GHG emissions, also known as embodied carbon. To demonstrate effective and measurable progress toward the Administration’s goals for Net Zero emissions, stakeholders must be able to quantify GHG emissions from materials and practices for the design, construction and maintenance of pavements.
Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) are verifiable and transparent instruments that communicate potential environmental impacts of products during their life cycle. Additionally, there is an increasing interest in using EPDs as data sources in the Lifecycle Cost Analysis (LCA) of highway pavements. The FHWA Climate Challenge encourages SDOTs to explore the use of LCA and EPDs as a standard practice to inform pavement material and design selection for enhancing sustainable pavement practices and quantify the emissions and impacts of those practices.